Public Health White Paper – A step in the right direction



Tuesday 30 November 2010

Responding to the Public Health White Paper launched today ASH broadly welcomed the emphasis placed on prevention and health improvement and the ring-fencing of money for public health.

ASH supports in principle the setting up of a Public Health Service (PHS) and the proposal to shift public health services to local authority control with a ring-fenced budget. However, it is essential that the commitment that the PHS will work closely with the NHS to deliver public health interventions and to promote uptake of prevention opportunities in clinical practice, is followed through in implementation.

ASH welcomes the Health Secretary’s commitment to reducing health inequalities by improving the health of the poorest people in society fastest. Research shows that the best way of doing this is to help those who are most disadvantaged to stop smoking since smoking accounts for half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor. [1] [2]

The Health Secretary’s announcement that there will be a new tobacco control plan launched in the New Year is also welcomed. ASH is pleased that the Secretary of State acknowledges that tobacco packaging is used to recruit new smokers and his commitment to consult on plain packaging. However, this should not stand in the way of the implementation of measures already on the statute books to put tobacco out of sight in shops.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, said:

“Consultation on plain packaging for tobacco products is to be welcomed but it should be as well as, not instead of, putting tobacco out of sight in shops. It’s an anomaly that brightly coloured tobacco displays which are already illegal on a bus stop or a billboard are still allowed in shops. The Government must confirm that the legislation to put tobacco out of sight will be implemented as planned from October 2011 without further delay, or the strength of its commitment to improving the public health will be put in doubt.”

ENDS

Notes:
Public Health White Paper:
Healthy Lives, Healthy People: www.dh.gov.uk/healthypeople

[1 ] Gruer, L et al. Effect of tobacco smoking on survival of men and women by social position: a 28 year cohort study. BMJ 2009; b480 doi:10.1136/bmj.b480
[2 ] Stringhini S et al. Association of socioeconomic position with health behaviors and mortality. JAMA 2010; 303 (12): 1159-1166
The Secretary of State made reference to a consultation on plain packaging on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday 28 Nov. See:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/andrew_marr_show/9235864.stm
and referred to a new tobacco control strategy to be published “shortly” on the Today programme:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9241000/9241008.stm