Reintroduce tobacco and vapes bill, government urged

An open letter calling on the Labour government to reintroduce the tobacco and vapes bill in the next parliamentary session has been published by the BMJ. Plans for a smoke-free UK should be ‘front and centre’ of the new government’s domestic policy agenda, says the document, which has been signed by more than 1,200 doctors, nurses, charities and other healthcare professionals.

Every constituency backs tobacco ban
Every constituency backs the tobacco ban

MPs voted in favour of the bill by 383 to 67 earlier this year but the legislation was ultimately shelved following the announcement of a July election. However, a survey of more than 13,000 people commissioned by ASH found that there was support for phasing out the sale of tobacco in every parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales.

‘Smoking is still the single biggest cause of preventable death, responsible for half of the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor people in our society,’ the letter states. ‘Labour cannot achieve its manifesto commitment to halve differences in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest regions unless it prioritises ending smoking.’

The government should also ‘press ahead’ with plans to stop vapes being marketed to children

The government should also ‘press ahead’ with plans to stop vapes being marketed to children, it adds, while ensuring that they remain accessible to adults who are trying to quit smoking.

Meanwhile, new analysis from Cancer Research UK has found that smoking-related cancers have reached an all-time high, despite declining smoking rates. The number of cases is up by 17 per cent in 20 years, with 160 new diagnoses per day – 20 more than in 2003.

‘Right now, six people are diagnosed every hour in the UK with cancer that was caused by smoking,’ said Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, Dr Ian Walker. ‘Raising the age of sale of tobacco products will be one of the biggest public health interventions in living memory, establishing the UK as a world leader. It’s vital that this bill is re-introduced at the King’s Speech, passed and implemented in full so the impact of smoking is consigned to the history books.’

BMJ letter available here

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