It’s the end of another busy year for ASH Wales and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our partners for the invaluable support they’ve given us in 2018 and to wish everybody a very merry Christmas.
Over the past 12 months, ASH Wales has continued to campaign for the introduction of smoke free spaces and tobacco control policies across Wales.
Highlights of the year have included the appointment of Scott Sanders, CEO of Linc-Cymru Housing Association, as the new ASH Wales Chairman. Mr Sanders brings to the role excellent leadership skills and 20 years of experience in the housing and social care sectors. He took over from our former Chairman, John Griffiths, who stepped down after 30 years in tobacco control.
In November ASH Wales welcomed Welsh Assembly members and representatives of the health and charity sectors across Wales to its first Cross Party Group. Chaired by Julie Morgan, the AM for Cardiff North, the group addressed the relationship between smoking and health inequalities in Wales, and heard a presentation from John Britton, of the University of Nottingham, who is Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.
2018 also saw the continued roll out of smoke free spaces across Wales, following campaigning by ASH Wales. In July Langland Bay in Swansea became Wales’ third smoke free beach and the second in Swansea, following a successful pilot ban at Caswell Bay in 2016.
In May ASH Wales launched a pilot project in Swansea working with 27 GP practices to offer smokers free breath tests using a CO monitor and support to help them to quit.
Throughout the year, ASH Wales continued to raise awareness of the impact of the illegal tobacco market in Wales, supporting the work of Trading Standards teams across Wales and taking part in a road show event in Port Talbot as part of World No Tobacco Day.
The year ahead will see major changes to the perception and practice of smoking in Wales when the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, comes into force. The Act will see Wales become the first country in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor areas, including hospital and school grounds and playgrounds. This will play a major role in the continued de-normalisation of smoking in Wales.
We look forward too, to Cardiff Met becoming Wales’ first smoke free university in September 2019 and will be working closely with the university and encouraging others to follow suit.
The Cross Party Group will hold its second meeting in February when it will once again address the reasons behind smoking prevalence in Wales. This focus is all the more pressing, as we edge closer to the Welsh Government’s target to reduce smoking prevalence among adults to 16% by 2020. With this in mind, ASH Wales will continue to lead the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance, bringing together organisations with an interest in tobacco control to address the key issues driving smoking prevalence.
We very much look forward to continuing to support the valuable work of our partners in 2018 and to raising awareness and campaigning for policies that will one day lead to a smoke-free Wales.