Smokefree 2030 — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:40 am on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 10:40 am, 26th April 2022

I think the hon. Gentleman must have read the next page of my speech, because I was about to come on to that. He makes a really important point. As has been mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East and the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell), who is no longer in his place, smoking rates are far higher in poorer areas of the country, among those socioeconomic groups. We see smoking rates of 20% in more deprived areas, compared with 5% in wealthier areas, and nearly one in 10 pregnant women still smokes, which increases the risk of health problems for their baby. Smoking prevalence for people with long-term mental health conditions is over 25%, so the burden of tobacco harm is not shared equally.

We cannot let that continue, so the Government are committed to doing more. Over the past decade we have made significant steps towards making England smokefree—a bold and ambitious target that we committed to in 2019. We continue to enforce high taxation to reduce the affordability of tobacco. As part of the annual Budget process, Her Majesty’s Treasury will continue the policy of using tax to raise revenues and will encourage cessation by continuing with duty increases on tobacco products above the retail prices index. We continue to invest in local stop smoking services and our high-impact marketing campaigns such as Stoptober—I hear it is VApril this month.

Between 2010 and 2021, almost 5 million people set a quit date with stop smoking services, and 2.5 million reported quitting after four weeks. We continue to enforce a strong regulatory framework, and we have introduced policies such as smokefree legislation and standardised packaging. All these measures, and many more, have been instrumental in helping smokers to quit and protecting future generations from starting this lethal habit.