Comprehensive Tobacco Control Letter Plan

20 December 2016

The Government's Tobacco Control Plan expired more than a year ago. We would like to put pressure on them to produce a new and ambitious plan to address what, as you know, remains a huge public health problem.

The text of the letter is set out below and I hope that you will be happy to add your signature using this link:  
 
Feel free to share this by email with other people working in healthcare/tobacco control but NOT via social media.
My apologies if you are asked about this more than once as it circulates.
 
Many thanks again for your help
 
Dr Nick Hopkinson MA PhD FRCP
Reader in Respiratory Medicine
Imperial College London
@COPDdoc
 
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER/SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH
The need for a new Tobacco Control Plan: an issue of social justice
The Prime Minister’s commitment to ‘fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others’[1] is welcome and achievable. As her Government has acknowledged [2], half this difference in life expectancy is due to the higher rates of smoking amongst the least affluent, so major improvements can be achieved by driving down smoking rates amongst the most disadvantaged in society. [3]
The evidence, both at home and abroad, is that doing this requires a comprehensive and sustained government strategy, [4] [5] Many measures, such as the advertising ban and standardised packaging, are self-sustaining. However to succeed in reducing inequality, the Government also needs to ensure adequate funding for the recurring costs of measures that are known to be effective - mass media campaigns, smoking cessation services and tackling tobacco smuggling. Adequate funding for tobacco control is also core to the “radical upgrade in prevention and public health”, which the NHS Five Year Forward View recognised as essential to ensure the “future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain”. [6]
 
Unfortunately, over a year has now passed since the Government’s previous Tobacco Control Plan expired. Despite warm words from the Public Health Minister to Parliament about the importance of a new strategy with new ambitions [7] there is as yet no publication date for its successor.[8] From past experience it is clear that commitment from Health Ministers is not sufficient; if the Prime Minister is really committed to social justice she needs to put her weight behind publication of a new Tobacco Control Plan without further delay.
 
 [1] Statement from the new Prime Minister Theresa May. 13 July 2016. Accessed online 8th December 2016.
[2] Hansard. Smoking: Written question - HL1194. 26 July 2016.
[3] Marmot M. Fair Society Healthy Lives (The Marmot Review), 2010.
[4] ASH. Smoking Still Kills. London 2015.
[5] RCP. Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco Harm reduction. A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians. London. RCP. 2016.
[6] NHS. NHS Five Year Forward View. October 2014.
[7] Hansard. Westminster Hall debate. Tobacco Control Plan. HC Volume 615. Column 192WH-196WH. 13 October 2016.
[8] Hansard. Topical Question – HC Vol 617 column 122. 15 November 2016
 

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