Tobacco Control Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 19th July 2018.

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Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 3:00 pm, 19th July 2018

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Those of us who have secure estates in our constituencies and go in and visit them regularly will be aware of just how much of a challenge this is, given how ingrained smoking is within the cohort. That relates to the point I made about specific groups. I think that the Prison Service deserves great credit. Suffice it to say that it has a lot of pressures on it, and in some ways it probably felt that this was the least of its worries and the last thing it could deal with, but it is actually very important. That is why I say we are working well across the Government, and the Prison Service is really pulling out the stops in its area. I thank him for that intervention.

To finish on the protocol, HMRC will continue to lead on it on behalf of the Government, working with my officials at the Department of Health and Social Care. Through the protocol, we are sharing our expertise as a leading tobacco control nation; this is not just about what we are doing domestically. We are funding the FCTC secretariat with £15 million over the spending review period to support tobacco control in 15 low and middle-income countries. I am very proud of that work, and I am pleased to say that we are already having an impact. Georgia introduced smoke-free legislation and a ban on advertising on 1 May. It seems strange to talk about banning advertising as a new measure, given how long a ban has been in place in our country, but it shows that other parts of the world have a long way to go to catch up. I am very proud that we are using our experience and our evidence-based experience to help countries such as Georgia to do so. I want to place on the record my congratulations to Georgia.

Domestically, Her Majesty’s Treasury continues to maintain high duty rates for tobacco products to make tobacco less affordable, which is absolutely right. Public Health England, for which I am responsible, and NHS England are working on a joint action plan to reduce smoking in pregnancy. A key part of this is helping midwives to identify women who smoke and help them to quit and to support the implementation of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on reducing smoking during pregnancy and immediately following childbirth.

PHE has been encouraging the use of e-cigarettes to help people quit. As part of this, the most recent Stoptober campaign for the first time highlighted the role of e-cigarettes in quitting. The best evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are helping thousands of people to quit and that they are particularly effective in the context of a smoking cessation clinic. PHE’s data website, “Local tobacco control profiles for England”—another snappy title I dreamed up—is helping local commissioners and service planners to identify where they are succeeding, where they face the greatest challenges and how they compare with their neighbours and the rest of England.