Public health organisations in England have launched the NHS Statement of Support on Tobacco Control, to combat the health damage done by smoking.
The statement, which has been endorsed by NHS England, PHE and the BMA, commits organisations to actively support local work to reduce smoking prevalence and health inequalities, and to develop plans with partners and local communities to encourage smoking cessation. The statement also requires NHS organisations to protect tobacco control work from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: 'Smoking is coming down - but it's still our country's number one killer. And it's the single biggest medical reason why poorer people die sooner. Our job in the NHS is to help support the majority of smokers who want to quit, and to help push for policies that prevent people getting hooked in the first place. That's why the NHS Statement of Support for Tobacco Control is a great initiative.'
The move comes as the government prepares to hold a vote on standardised packaging for all tobacco products. This would lead to mandatory colours for packaging (brown on the outside, white on the interior), and permitting only the brand and variant name to be written on the package. The government has already committed to hold a vote before the dissolution of the current parliament. The government intends to introduce these proposals by May 2016, in line with the introduction of the European Tobacco Products Directive.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: 'We are now one step closer to securing standardised packaging – a measure that will dramatically reduce the appeal of smoking to children and help save thousands of lives. We now urge the Government to set a date for the final vote on the regulations. Standard packs are backed by the public, health professionals and an overwhelming majority of MPs. When the regulations are passed into law, this will be the most important public health reform of this parliament.'