NHS and Public Health leaders in Humber and North Yorkshire say they were delighted to hear new proposals to tackle smoking, outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday, with the potential for, “Era-defining legislation which will profoundly positively impact the population health of the region”.
During his speech at the Conservative Party conference, Rishi Sunak proposed an open vote in Parliament, to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes by one year, every year, meaning that children aged 14 now will never legally be able to buy tobacco.
During his speech, Mr Sunak said: “Four in five smokers have started by the time they’re 20. Later, the vast majority try to quit, but many fail because they’re addicted.
“When we raised the smoking age to 18, smoking prevalence dropped by 30% in that age group.
“Smoking places huge pressures on the NHS and costs our country £17 billion a year.
“We have a chance to cut cancer deaths by a quarter, significantly ease those pressures and protect our children, and we should take it.”
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), together with others who make up the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, has already prioritised treatment of tobacco dependency in the region.
Alongside the accelerated rollout of the NHS Long Term plan, which saw dedicated tobacco dependency treatment services embedded into hospital sites, a ground-breaking, regional Tobacco Control Centre for Excellence has been established which connects all partners in the field to a shared vision of a smokefree future.
Even though smoking prevalence has dropped, the Humber and North Yorkshire region still has some of the highest smoking rates in the country and the ICB recognises the urgent need to save lives and reduce health inequalities caused by smoking tobacco.
Stephen Eames, Chief Executive of NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, said: “The case for action on smoking is clear, we must do more to prevent ill health in the first place, not just treat it afterwards. This is why our partnership in Humber and North Yorkshire has set up a ground-breaking Centre of Excellence in Tobacco Control. Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death in our region, costing our area £464.9 million a year with £57.2 million in health care costs alone.
“Smoking devastates our poorest communities, with half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor caused by higher smoking rates; a gap that is widening, with a third of all smokers among the 20 per cent most deprived communities. But what is more shocking, is that behind every statistic is a human being. A real person, threatened by the debilitating health effects of smoking, and significantly poorer because of an addiction that started in childhood.”
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, together with our partners, urge our local councillors and Members of Parliament, whether you have a political leaning or not, to take this incredible opportunity to support life-saving legislation which could save our children’s futures from the death and destruction caused by tobacco.