Thank you for contacting me about the tobacco control plan.
I believe it is vital the Government reduces smoking in our society. Smoking is still the leading individual cause of preventable death in the country; it exacerbates existing inequalities in our society, and must be tackled.
In July 2017 the Government published a new Tobacco Control Plan. The last plan ran from 2011 to 2015, and exceeded its ambitions, reducing adult smoking rates from 20.2 per cent, to 15.5 per cent. I believe there is still more progress to be made, and this plan will play a central role in ushering in a smoke-free generation.
I support this ambitious plan, which will bring together local authorities and the Department of Health in efforts to reduce the total rate of smoking, drastically cut smoking in teenagers, provide stop-smoking services and support for those with mental health issues, and eliminate the damaging inequalities long- associated with smoking.
I am pleased to note that the Government is offering substantial funding to local councils, through to 2021, to provide vital services, such as smoking cessation programmes, to ensure the success of this plan.
As things stand, there are over 200 smoking-related deaths per day, and although smoking rates have fallen, still 10 per cent of pregnant women smoke, as do 8 per cent of fifteen year olds. Smoking remains stubbornly commonplace amongst the disadvantaged, with those earning less than £10,000 a year almost twice as likely to smoke as those earning £40,000 or more.
I agree with the Prime Minister when she spoke about the burning injustice that sees the poorest die nine years earlier on average than the richest. Smoking accounts for around half of this variation in life expectancy, and I believe it is vital that the Government builds on its successes and uses the latest tobacco control plan to further tackle smoking and eradicate one of the most pernicious inequalities in public health.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.