As the single leading behavioural cause of preventable death across our country, responsible for around 64,000 deaths across England in 2019, reducing smoking is crucial for ensuring we live longer, healthier lives.
The Government has made significant progress in this area with smoking rates the lowest on record, currently at 13 percent. To make further progress, the Government is currently considering the findings of an independent review, led by Javed Khan, of progress towards delivering a smoke-free England. Further information about the future of the Tobacco Control Plan will be available in due course.
The independent review made a number of recommendations, which included prohibiting smoking outside in hospitality venues; making hospital grounds smoke-free; and reducing smoking in social housing. I understand the Government is considering the detail of the review before responding in due course.
You may be interested to know that the Government intends to publish a Major Conditions Strategy, recognising that reducing smoking will be central to tackling the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and the cause of seven out of ten cases of lung cancer.
Whilst I cannot sign up to the specific pledge and recommendations from Cancer Research UK's smoke free campaign, I fully support the Government’s commitment to ensuring the UK is smokefree by 2030 and believe that the actions mentioned above will help achieve this goal.
I believe Cancer Research UK’s smoke free campaign complements the Government’s ambition to make the UK smoke free by 2030, and I am happy to commit to championing this cause in Parliament.
The Treasury previously consulted on introducing a levy on tobacco manufacturers and imports in 2015. At that time, the Government decided not to introduce a levy, but all taxes are kept under constant review.
As part of Dr Javed Khan’s independent review, a “Polluter Pays” levy - proposed by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and other public health charities – has been proposed as an option to help provide additional funding to meet the Government’s ambition of making England smoke free by 2030. I look forward to studying the Government's response to the Review in due course.
I fully support steps taken to reduce smoking across the UK, by supporting people who are currently smoking to quit, and working to prevent others from starting.
The Government's ambition for a smoke-free England by 2030 is challenging, but achievable, and I know that the UK is a world leader in successfully reducing smoking prevalence, one of the lowest rates of tobacco use in Europe.
It is possible to end smoking without making it illegal to smoke - it is important that people suffering with addiction who are looking to stop are able to reach out for the support that they need, in particular through local authority and NHS services. I believe that outlawing smoking would only serve to make it harder for people suffering with addiction to quit.
Whilst I understand that the independent review on Tobacco Control has considered changes to the legal age to purchase cigarettes, the Government is still considering these recommendations and will respond to the review in due course.