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Resist calls to publish new tobacco control strategy without delay, Forest urges government

Thu 13th October, 2016

Forest has criticised members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, run by the anti-smoking group ASH, who are urging the government to publish a new Tobacco Control Plan "without further delay".

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "Like Brexit, the government must take its time and get its strategy right. How can ministers introduce new measures when we're still waiting for an independent review of existing policies, and measures such as plain packaging have yet to be fully implemented?"

He added:

“Anti-tobacco campaigners are lobbying the government to introduce new tobacco control measures. Research however suggests there is little public support for further anti-smoking policies.

“What is equally clear is the public’s desire for a common sense approach to policy making in the area of tobacco control. Regulation should not be made at the behest of taxpayer-funded lobby groups but on the basis of credible, independent evidence."

On Monday [10th October] Forest published a report, Enough Is Enough: Attitudes to UK Smoking Policies, that revealed that a clear majority of the public believe that measures to tackle smoking have gone too far or gone far enough.

Based on a series of polls conducted by Populus for Forest, the report also found that:

– The public overwhelmingly believe the government has more pressing priorities than tackling smoking – investing in new doctors and nurses, for example.

– There is no appetite for additional tax rises on tobacco products – a huge majority believe that tobacco duty is already about right, too high or far too high.

– A significant majority of the public believe that purchasing illegal tobacco is an understandable response from consumers faced with the high cost of tobacco products.

– Measures to restrict smoking in outdoor public places such as parks and beaches have no popular or scientific legitimacy and would be hard to police.

– Following a dramatic fall in the number of people using NHS stop smoking services a significant majority of the public believe there should be a review of how these services are funded.

– A majority of the public believe the government’s tobacco control policies should be independently reviewed and should not be driven by taxpayer-funded lobby groups.

– Almost a decade since smoking was banned in pubs and clubs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and ten years since smoking was prohibited in Scotland’s pubs and bars, a majority of the public believe that pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room to accommodate smokers.

According to Clark:

“Theresa May says she wants to make Britain a country that works for everyone. She also says the Conservatives will use government to ‘restore fairness’ in Britain. In the coming months, as the government’s new smoking strategy is finalised, ministers should reflect on what that truly means.

“A significant number of adults smoke, and enjoy smoking, and their contribution to society is substantial. Further discrimination against smokers would be the clearest sign that this new one nation Conservative government is not as inclusive as it purports to be.”

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