Smokefree 2030 — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 9:30 am, 26th April 2022

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered progress towards the Government’s smokefree 2030 ambition.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Nokes. For those who do not know, today is my birthday. What better way to celebrate my birthday than to speak in Westminster Hall? On a personal level, it is tinged with sadness, because tomorrow is the anniversary of my mother’s death. She died from smoking—officially, it was lung and throat cancer, but I am clear that smoking killed my mother. That is one of the reasons I am so passionate about ensuring that young people do not start smoking and that those who smoke give up as quickly as they can, because the medical reality is that the lungs can recover. In fact, if smokers quit at an early enough stage, even seasoned smokers who have smoked for many years will see their lungs recover.

I thank the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Backbench Business Committee, on which I sit, for granting this debate. Originally, our intention was to focus on Javed Khan’s long-awaited review. The officers of the all-party parliamentary group on smoking and health and I believed that the review’s recommendation would be published last Friday. Javed has had to delay his publication, but I hope that when we see it, it will be as radical as we believe it to be. Given the delay in publication—until the middle of May, I believe—we were left having to decide whether to proceed with this debate or wait. My view is that, given that we have the opportunity to debate this issue, and possibly even shape Javed Khan’s views and recommendations, it is better to proceed and get the answers from the Minister about where we stand on the review. I hope the Government will commit to introduce all the recommendations of Javed Khan’s review, whatever they may be, to achieve what I am sure we all in this room wish to achieve: a smokefree 2030.

Mary Kelly Foy—I will call her my hon. Friend—and I have co-sponsored this debate, and I am sure she will speak on many of aspects, particularly levelling up. The Government have a bold ambition, which I strongly support—I am sure we all do—to bring the end of smoking within touching distance. But it is deeply disappointing that, three years on from that being announced in the Green Paper, we do not seem to have made much progress. There is no road map to put us on the route to success. The purpose of this debate is to remind the Minister of the urgent need to deliver the bold action that was promised in the 2019 Green Paper.

The 2030 ambition was acknowledged by everyone to be extremely challenging only three years ago. We have lost three years, so it is even more challenging now. We should be clear that if we do nothing, we will not achieve that target, so there is no time to be lost. When the ambition was announced, we had 11 years; now, there is only eight. We are nowhere near achieving our ambition, particularly for our more disadvantaged communities in society, which have the highest rates of smoking.