From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 19 March 2024
Date March 19, 2024 1:05 PM
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** 19 March 2024

** UK

** Sunak braces for backlash as smoking ban bill to be introduced in Commons (#2)

** Shops flouting planned UK disposable vape ban need harsher fines, LGA says (#4)

** Government urged to tackle poverty to help the NHS (#1)

** UK

** Sunak braces for backlash as smoking ban bill to be introduced in Commons

Rishi Sunak’s public health policy banning the next generation from being able to buy cigarettes is to be introduced in parliament this week, with officials braced for a backlash from Conservative rebels.

While the policy commands considerable support in Conservative ranks, the scale of an expected rebellion by libertarian Tories – whose ranks include Liz Truss – has yet to become clear.

However, sources involved in lobbying to defeat the bill claim that as many as 80 to 100 MPs are unhappy, setting up a scenario in which Sunak would be reliant on Labour for what may yet emerge as one of his few legacy policies.

Tory MPs who were planning to oppose the bill told the Guardian that the scale of opposition would be dependent on what is in it and how it is amended. A first reading is expected to take place in the House of Commons on Wednesday, in what is usually a formality and takes place without a debate – although it may yield some clues as to the scale of unhappiness among Tories.

Under the plan anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 – in effect anyone who is 14 or younger now – will not legally be able to buy cigarettes in England during their lives as the smoking age is raised by one year every year, subject to MPs’ approval.

John Hayes, a former minister and influential Tory backbencher on the right of the party, questioned on Monday whether the legislation would ultimately be workable, criticising a scenario in which a person aged 28 would be deemed capable of buying tobacco, while someone at 27 would not.

However, Sunak is likely to be helped by MPs who have had a change of heart about health interventions.

Alun Cairns, a Tory MP and former secretary of state for Wales, said that he had opposed such a ban in the past, believing that “the market” would ultimately deliver a better outcome, but added that he had come around to the public health arguments, as many others had too.

Before a meeting of centrist One Nation Tories on Monday evening, Flick Drummond, the MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire, said: “Although I understand the views of those who feel the state is getting far too involved in people’s lives, I’m very much in favour of a smoking ban because treating those who have smoked is a huge and expensive public health challenge as well as a human tragedy because it kills people so early.

“Many Conservatives, who instinctively would usually be reticent about such an intervention and who don’t like banning things, do share my view because smoking and passive smoking is so dangerous.”

She believed there was widespread support for the ban among many Conservative MPs, reflecting the public mood.

A survey last month by the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that 71% of adults supported the goal of making Britain a country where no one smokes, while 12% are opposed.

Source: The Guardian, 18 March 2024

See also: Brief for Parliamentarians Creating a smokefree generation ([link removed])
Read Here ([link removed])

** Shops flouting planned UK disposable vape ban need harsher fines, LGA says

Firms flouting the proposed ban on disposable vapes should face harsher fines to deter unscrupulous businesses, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

Under the government’s plans, businesses caught selling disposable vapes once the ban is in place could be given a fixed-penalty notice of £100 by their local council.

The LGA has said that the proposed fine is too low and might let businesses off the hook. A minority could see the fine as a price worth paying to continue to sell the products, it said.

Kaya Comer-Schwartz, the leader of Islington council and public health spokesperson for the LGA, said: “We’re delighted that the government is taking decisive action to ban disposable vapes. However, proposed penalties will be a drop in the ocean to a minority of unscrupulous businesses looking to make a quick buck after the ban comes into place.”

Councils can hand out larger penalties for other offences, according to LGA analysis, including up to £500 for littering, £500 for excessive noise from a licensed premises, £200 for a business failing to put up “no smoking” signs, and up to £150 for unauthorised distribution of free leaflets on public land.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling for the government to amend the tobacco and vaping bill to allow councils to impose more severe fines.

Councils are also calling for new duties on vaping liquid announced in the budget to be used to fund local environmental, public health and enforcement services.

The LGA has helped lead calls for a ban on disposable vapes, saying they blight the streets as litter, are a hazard in council bin lorries, and are expensive and difficult to deal with at recycling centres. Their colours, flavours and advertising are appealing to children and are an increasing risk to young people’s health, the organisation said.

Comer-Schwartz said that allowing councils to issue bigger fines would act as a strong deterrent and ensure the ban on disposable vapes was effective. It would also be essential for creating a “new smoke-free generation”.

Source: The Guardian, 16 March 2024

Read Here ([link removed])

** Government urged to tackle poverty to help the NHS

People living in poverty find it harder to live a healthy life and face barriers to accessing timely treatment, new research suggests.

A report by the King’s Fund, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, finds that the delays people living in deprived communities face for healthcare mean they are more likely to need expensive emergency treatment.

The authors of the report titled Illustrating the Relationship Between Poverty and NHS Services write that, while the NHS can treat the health harms of poverty, wider government and societal action is needed to address its root causes.

Saoirse Mallorie, a senior analyst at the King’s Fund and senior author of the report, said: “Our analysis highlights that not only do people living in poverty have shorter lives, they also spend a higher proportion of their lives with health problems. To improve the nation’s health and use NHS resources in the best way, tackling poverty must be as much of a priority as bringing down waiting lists.”

“While the NHS can do more to treat the symptoms of people experiencing poverty, it cannot alone address the root causes. Bolder action from government, economic and civic society is needed to lift millions of people out of poverty and break this vicious cycle of poverty and its impact on poor health.”

The report says 30% of people living in the most deprived areas in the UK have turned to 999, 111, A&E or a walk-in centre because they were unable to access a GP appointment, compared with just 10% of people in the least deprived areas.

Hospital data shows a direct link between higher levels of deprivation and higher emergency admissions, while the increase in length of stay in critical care beds has been greater among more deprived groups.

Between 2017-18 and 2022-23 the average length of stay in critical care increased 27% for people in the most deprived communities but just 13% for the least deprived.

The analysis also identifies a pattern where, for some health conditions, prevalence is lower in the most deprived areas yet deaths from those conditions are higher.

The authors point to dementia, which is 1.4 times less prevalent in the most deprived areas of England compared with the least deprived, yet the mortality rate from it is 1.6 times higher.

Source: The Guardian, 18 March 2024

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