Tobacco Control Cross Party Group
Smoking is the single highest risk factor for premature death, disease and disability in Wales. It has been identified as a leading cause for the gap in mortality rates between the most and least deprived areas of our country, with smoking rates almost triple in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived. It causes over 5000 deaths each year in Wales and costs the Welsh NHS an estimated £302 million per year. New ideas are needed to tackle the harms of smoking. Wales is on track to miss the 2020 target and smoking prevalence has remained at 19% for the last 3 years.
About the group
Tackling smoking prevalence is a big challenge and requires a concerted effort by a number of partners to ensure that tobacco control remains a key focus of the Welsh Government’s work to improve the nation’s health.
The Tobacco Control Cross Party Group was set up with the purpose of ensuring that tobacco control remains a key component of the health agenda in Wales and to monitor the progress being made to address the inequalities caused by smoking in Wales.
Its aims include to:
- Discuss and help formulate new ideas for the up-coming Tobacco Control Action Plan
- Review the implementation of the Tobacco Control Delivery Plan for Wales
- Ensure that the topic of Tobacco Control and Smoking is a key aspect of Welsh Government Health and Wellbeing Policy and Action Plans
- Identify gaps and areas of action to address inequalities caused by tobacco use and campaign for improvement
- Monitor and discuss smoking trends and prevalence amongst the general population and specific groups
- Assess and report back on pioneering and innovative techniques to reduce smoking prevalence
- Identify potential changes in existing legislation to reduce levels of smoking and suggest ways to bring those changes to the political and policy arena
Current Chair of the group
John Griffiths AM (Labour)
Members of the group include:
Mike Hedges AM (Labour)
Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid Cymru)
Darren Miller AM (Conservative)
Caroline Jones AM (Independent)
Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid Cymru)
The group met for the first time on 14th November 2018 for a meeting chaired by Julie Morgan, AM for Cardiff North, which began with a presentation by Professor John Britton of the University of Nottingham, Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the UK centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. During his presentation Professor Britton, highlighted the challenges of tackling smoking prevalence among the country’s poorest communities and called for more to be done to address high levels of smoking among those suffering from mental health problems. Professor Britton focused on two policy solutions to help reduce smoking inequalities; opt-out treatment for smokers across the NHS, as advocated in this 2018 report by the Royal College of Physicians and support for heavily addicted smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, as advocated here.
On March 5th 2019, the group met for the second time and heard a presentation from Zareen Iqbal from ASH Scotland about the work the organisation has done with money advice organisations. During the presentation she described how agencies working with clients facing financial difficulties and poverty related issues can start conversations about the cost of smoking in innovative ways and refer those that want to quit to smoking cessation support services. Findings from ASH Scotland’s research on this topic are collated in this report. Findings from ASH Wales’ 2019 annual event were also discussed and are summarised in this.
To find out more about the Tobacco Control Cross Party Group please contact Julie@ashwales.org.uk