ASH Wales, the charity that protects children from becoming addicted lifelong smokers, has today launched an exciting new initiative to bring together health professionals, academics, community and business leaders, as well as national and local government officials, from all over Wales to find creative solutions to Wales’s growing public health problems.
Launching the Wales Tobacco or Health Network (WTHN), at its inaugural event being held in Cardiff, Chief Executive Tanya Buchanan commented: “We need creative solutions to tackle our health problems in Wales. Not enough attention is given to preventing disease, instead we spend vast sums of money year after year treating disease rather than concentrating resources on preventing ill health in the first place.
“Smoking kills over 5,500 people every year in Wales and all of these deaths can be prevented. We know that health risk behaviours are interlinked and to effectively improve the health of Welsh people we need to address smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity and poor diet holistically. This new Network will ensure we don’t work in isolation and will improve partnership working between business, government bodies and the voluntary sector.”
Delegates will hear from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, who is supporting the Network: “I am delighted to support the launch of the Wales Tobacco or Health Network by ASH Wales. This is an exciting initiative that is highly important to public health in Wales. Tobacco use claims 5650 lives each year in Wales and costs the NHS more than £1 million a day in treatment costs. Addressing the enormous human and financial burden caused by tobacco requires a concerted effort.
“The Wales Tobacco or Health Network is a good example of where individuals can make a real difference. The current smoking prevalence rates in Wales have remained at 24% for the last three years. The new Network has a vital role to play in developing our capacity to effectively address tobacco use in Wales in order to drive down our unacceptably high rates of smoking.”
The WTHN will also be supported by the Excellence in Tobacco Control Awards for Wales which will recognise the good work already being undertaken in tobacco control and cessation activities.
Delegates will hear about the success of Ireland’s implementation of the behind the counter tobacco display ban, trends in adolescent smoking in Wales, evidence for protecting children from smoking in cars, and discuss the implications of the Welsh referendum.