Presentation by the Director of Fresh and Balance.
The Board received a presentation from the Director of Fresh and Balance, Ailsa Rutter OBE on tackling smoking, asking ‘can smoking really end?’ (for copy see file of minutes).
The Director of Fresh and Balance explained as regards the history of smoking, including information on smoking in particular groups, those in manual occupations, with mental health conditions / mental illness, substance misuse issues and pregnancy. She explained that since 1971, almost 8 million lives have been lost to tobacco, and 50 percent of all deaths in the last 50 years have been due to the tobacco industry. She explained that it was felt that smoking could be addressed, and that there were some real positives for smoking cessation in Durham, however, bold action was needed.
The Board noted ten high impact actions for the Local Authorities and partners were to:
1. Prioritise health inequalities
2. Work in partnership especially regionally
3. Support every smoker to quit
4. Communicate the harms and the hope
5. Promote harm reduction
6. Tackle illicit tobacco
7. Promote smokefree environments
8. Enable young people to live smokefree
9. Set targets to drive progress
10. Protect and promote progressive tobacco control policy
The Director of Fresh and Balance noted some low cost policy intervention suggestions to de-normalise smoking, including:
• Quit messaging on individual cigarettes and in packs
• Regulating e-cigarettes and other nicotine products to protect young people while helping adult smokers to quit
• Consider raising the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21:
Almost all smokers (95%) begin smoking before they turn 21
• Raising age of sale to 21 would reduce smoking rates in 18-20 yr olds by ~30%
The Director of Fresh and Balance concluded by noting the Board could help by endorsing the report of the All Party Parliamentary Group Report on smoking and supporting the work of the many partners involved.
Councillor T Henderson noted that smoking in pregnant women was still an issue in County Durham, with 15.5 percent smoking at the time the baby was born. He asked how Fresh were supporting a reduction in rates and if there was anything that could be done differently. The Director of Fresh and Balance noted there were fewer females smoking and the numbers were improving, however, better identification of smokers was an issue and having a holistic approach in terms of stop smoking support with Midwifery and support services. She added that if there were more funding, year round campaigns could be implemented, which had been in the past, though funding may have to be requested from Government. She noted there was not one magic solution in tackling the issue.
Councillor R Bell asked if there was an update on the case for making the “polluter pay” and placing a levy on the tobacco industry to fund work to reduce the number of people who smoke.
The Director of Fresh and Balance noted there had been a vote in the House of Lords last week, with the majority in favour, with an amendment currently with the House of Commons.
She added that there was a need to be bold and not let the companies get away with not paying. The Chair noted the update and the Board agreed to drafting a letter to MPs to support the work.
That the presentation be noted.
M Laing left the meeting at 10.13am