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London councillors demand action on tobacco control plan

London councillors with an interest in health have written to the new Secretary of State for Health, Steve Barclay, to demand action on tobacco’s grip on the capital.

Setting out concerns London’s almost one million smokers they are calling for the government to publish its Tobacco Control Plan, implement a levy on tobacco companies and raise the age of sale from 18 to 21 to protect young people.

The letter, sent under the banner of the newly formed London Tobacco Alliance, which launched in October, cites the support that these policies already have in London saying:

“Prevention works. The evidence for preventative measures is strong, as is public support. Over two thirds of Londoners support a levy on tobacco companies and 58% support raising the age of sale to 21. If we work together, we can secure a smokefree future for Londoners and the wider country.”

Jim Dickson, Joint Cabinet Member for Healthier Communities at Lambeth Council and Chair of Lambeth’s Health and Wellbeing Board said:

“Tobacco products are having a big impact on the poorest in our boroughs. We would like the government to refocus on its smokefree ambitions and Publish a Tobacco Control Plan without delay, giving due consideration to the recommendations made by the Khan Review.

“We’d also like to see a levy placed on tobacco companies to fund the support smokers need to stop, and to prevent children in London from taking up smoking.

“We are also calling for consultation on raising the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21, to protect young people from a lifetime of tobacco addiction.”

Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive for Smoking on Action and Health (ASH) said:

“Smoking places an immense burden on London’s economy, costing the health and social care systems around £3bn every single year. This represents a burden to the taxpayer but as importantly is a health burden disproportionately felt by poorer communities where smoking is most common, and smokers more heavily addicted.

“This is not inevitable. Government commissioned The Khan Review to find out what was needed to meet it’s goal of a smokefree England by 2030. It reported in June, Government must now act.

“Delivering a smokefree 2030 will protect the NHS, improving health and economic prosperity for the poorest people in London. The funding to do this can be levied from an industry that makes excess profits from people’s addictions. Why would you not do it?”

Dr Somen Banerjee, Co-chair of London Association of Directors of Public Health and Tobacco cessation lead said:

“The aim of the London Tobacco Alliance is to enable partners to accelerate efforts to eliminate smoking in London. It’s rewarding to see that it is already enabling different parts of the London system to work together.”

Tracy Parr, Programme Director, London Tobacco Alliance and Stop Smoking London said:

“London is prioritising smokefree 2030. Almost a million Londoners are trapped in the grips of tobacco dependence. The launch of the London Tobacco Alliance has given partners across London a vehicle to voice their views and work together to achieve change in London, reducing inequality and life years lost to tobacco. With around 900,000 people regularly smoking in London, that equates to almost 10-million life-years saved.”

Created to enable partners to accelerate efforts to eliminate smoking in London the London Tobacco Alliance aims to ensure that ending smoking remains high on the agenda of health priorities for London.

London Tobacco Alliance partners include Directors of Public Health, representatives from the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities, the NHS in London, London Councils, the GLA as well as voluntary sector organisations and academic institutions.


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