Saturday, 6 December 2014

The incidence of smoking in Haslingden and Hyndburn is too high.

The incidence of smoking in Haslingden and Hyndburn has been reducing for decades since the first link between smoking and lung cancer was made in the 1950s. Even smokestacks have moderate their consumption; from unfiltered full strength to the modern phenomena of e-cigarettes. 

However detrimental smoking of cigarettes in Hyndburn and East Lancashire has remained far higher than the rest of the UK. Smoking is an addiction which kills one in two long-term users.
According to new research released by Cancer Research UK, the percentage of people smoking in Hyndburn is 30.1%, which is significantly higher than the English average of 19.5%. As smoking causes nearly 1 in 5 cancer cases in the UK, with a higher smoking rate, Hyndburn suffers significantly more smoking-related deaths than the national average, at 413.9 per 100,000 people as opposed to 291.9 per 100,000 across England. 
Of those smoking related cancers, lung cancer in East Lancashire is higher than the national average at 60.6 per 100,000 as opposed to 47 nationally.
Smoking not only curtails the life of its many victims bringing pain and misery but it also hits our local economy and three NHS.
There is some good news in terms of lung cancer survival however, with East Lancashire faring around the national average at 28% compared to 29.4% nationally. 
However I want us to do better, and that means taking active steps to reducing the numbers of people who start smoking – and that means preventing them from starting smoking at a young age. 
8 in 10 smokers starts by the age of 19, which basically means that smoking is an addiction that begins during childhood. 4.5 million smokers in the UK started before the  ae of 16. 
Cigarette advertising on TV was banned in the 1960s, and this marked the beginning of a decline in smoking rates which has continued with billboard and print advertising bans, public smoking bans an point of sale display bans. Indeed it is only with consistent action and progressive tax increases that we see declines in smoking – indeed during the 90s when there was a lull in smoking policies, the rate began to flatten out again.
Clearly information and promotion is one of the key factors which affects smoking rates, which is why I would support the introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes. The evidence from Australia, the country which currently has such rules in place, is increasingly clear. The policy has helped to continue the year-on-year decline in smoking rates in Australia, and it could help in the UK, and particularly in Hyndburn where we have stubbornly high smoking rates.
I accept that there may be unintended consequences though I am not sure to what extent. 
Critics have suggested greater smuggling of illicit, dangerous or more toxic tobacco. That in itself would play in to a criminal element.
None the less I have long believed that standardised packaging should be introduced, and Sir Cyril Chantler's recent independent review has confirmed that this measure would make cigarettes less attractive to young people and help to save lives. The Government's own systematic review in 2012 also concluded that standardised packaging would make smoking less appealing, it would make health warnings more prominent and it would refute the mistaken belief that some brands are healthier than others.

There is a strong consensus in favour of standardised packaging and I for one will be supporting the proposal. The fact that it may not come forward this parliament is a reflection on David Cameron's weakness, given his previous commitments in this matter in that he won't stand upto the tobacco lobby. 


Plain packsMPs demand action over plain cigarette packets' (Obs p6) - The govt is under fire from politicians on all sides amid fears that legislation forcing tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packs will not be introduced before the general election, writes Doward. MPs from all three main parties, including the Tory chair of the health select committee, have warned time is running out to introduce a law that wld see cigarettes sold in unbranded packs, a measure experts claim wld deter young people from smoking. A delay wld be a major victory for “big tobacco” and trigger questions for the Tories’ chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, who runs a lobbying firm that represents Marlboro manufacturer Philip Morris. Crosby denies influencing tobacco policy. He came under scrutiny last year after advising David Cameron to “get the barnacles off the boat”, urging the PM to focus on core issues that resonated with voters and jettison others that do little for the Tories’ electoral chances. Some Conservatives fear being seen as anti-smoking wld play into the hands of Ukip and have urged the govt to delay the plain packs.LambThis is a landmark public health issue. I want the govt to act while we have time before the election. From a Lib Dem perspective, we want this legislation to go through and that’s what we will fight for. (Obs)