Government's anti-cigarette drive to stop you smoking at the wheel and at home
1 February 2010
Plans to cut the number of smokers by pressurising them not to light up at home and in cars have been unveiled. The Government’s ‘tobacco control strategy’ also proposes banning smoking at entrances to buildings and selling cigarettes in plain grey packets as part of a series of policies aimed at halving the number of smokers by 2020.
The plans were dismissed as ‘ meddlesome’ and ‘unworkable’ by critics. But Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘I make no apology when it comes to protecting children and giving them the best start in life. smoking at the wheel The Government aims to discourage smoking while driving. Critics say the idea is 'unworkable' ‘I want to see a smoke-free future, a future where people lead longer and healthier lives because they don’t smoke.’
The proposals, to be announced today, include a review of the law to consider if areas such as entrances to buildings should be included in the smoking ban. Children’s health forms a key part of the crackdown, which proposes running ‘smoke-free community’ campaigns highlighting the benefits of smoke-free homes and cars. Social workers and other health professionals will be ‘encouraged’ to talk to parents about the impact their habit has on their children.
Cigarette packaging could be stripped back to basics, with logos, colour and graphics banned and just the text of the brand of cigarettes on show against a grey background. Other plans include stopping the sale of tobacco from vending machines and a crackdown on the illegal import of cheap cigarettes.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Britain, claiming up to 80,000 lives a year. It is blamed for 1.4million hospital admissions a year and costs the NHS £2.7billion. Despite numerous anti- smoking drives, some eight million Britons smoke and around 200,000 young people take up the habit each year.
He says about his proposals: 'I make no apology when it comes to protecting children and giving them the best start in life' Professor Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘We are pleased that children are a priority in this new strategy. ‘Second-hand smoke has been found to be strongly linked to chest infections in children, asthma, ear problems and cot death.’
But Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘Given that people are well aware of the dangers of smoking, the Government should let people decide for themselves what they want to do. ‘What they don’t want is Government ministers jumping into their cars with them to see whether they happen to light up a cigarette.’
Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: 'We must keep pushing hard for a tobacco free future and keep up the momentum gained by England going smoke-free in 2007. 'Since then, the number of people who have given up smoking has increased, so this new strategy and targeted support will help smokers who want to quit, to give up for good. 'It will also discourage children from taking up smoking and prevent a great number of unnecessary and early deaths.'
Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, said halving the number of smokers by 2020 will require even more laws and 'will further erode our ability to choose how we wish to live our lives'. He said the government has introduced 'some of the most draconian anti-smoking laws in the world' and added: 'In an allegedly free society, this is nothing to be proud of.'
Mr Clark said Forest was concerned that existing legislation may be extended to prohibit smoking in outdoor areas. 'The current smoking ban, which has had a devastating impact on community pubs and clubs, is out of all proportion to the harm allegedly caused by second-hand smoke. Further restrictions will only accelerate that trend.' Mr Clark said Forest supports 'reasonable efforts' to stop young people smoking but said some of the Government's proposals were designed to 'denormalise' a legal activity. 'The Health Secretary says he wants to crack down on cheap illicit cigarettes, but at the same time the government says it will consider increases in tobacco duty. 'Don't they understand that one of the reasons Britain has such a problem with illicit cigarettes is because this government has increased tobacco taxation to record levels and that has encouraged criminal gangs and individuals to smuggle millions of cheap cigarettes into the country?'
Mr Clark added: 'We accept that some people wish to quit smoking and we therefore welcome the Health Secretary's comment that the NHS is there to help everyone, including smokers. 'What alarms us is that yet again the government fails to recognise that many people choose to smoke and have no intention of giving up.'
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