Birmingham backs cigarette packaging plans

By on 09/08/2012 in Cllr Bedser

Birmingham's smoking successLeading public health figures in Birmingham have written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley outlining their support for plans to standardise cigarette packaging.

A nationwide consultation on plain packaging draws to a close on Friday (August 10) and Birmingham's Tobacco Control Alliance, chaired by Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, has responded in favour of standardised packs.

Now the Tobacco Control Alliance has written to Lansley outlining its position and Cllr Bedser explained: “This is about protecting the people of Birmingham and we want to make our position very clear to the Health Secretary

“Tobacco packaging has become the tobacco companies' number one tool for marketing their products. They use innovative marketing strategies to attract new smokers, especially children into a lifetime of addiction that is expensive, health destroying but commercially profitable for the industry.

“The shape, size and colour are all influential aspects of tobacco packaging design and we are pleased that all these elements will be controlled as part of the proposed legislation.

“In the UK the majority of smokers start before the age of 18 and in Birmingham, around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking. We believe the legislation will help to protect children from the harms of tobacco.

“There is evidence to show that plain or standardised packs are less appealing to young people, while plain packs will also enhance the effectiveness of the picture health warnings currently displayed on cigarette packs in motivating smokers to quit.”

In Birmingham around 1 in 5 adults smoke, equating to around 185,000 smokers. Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.

Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham's three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:

  • 1 in 4 of all cancers,
  • 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
  • 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease

Figures released last month show Birmingham is leading the fight against smoking, with public health campaigns helping a record 10,000 people kick the habit over the last 12 months.

And Cllr Bedser, believes moves to strip cigarette packets of branding will further boost efforts to cut the number of smokers across the city.

The success of the stop smoking services in Birmingham is attributable to the accessibility and quality support offered to smokers. In Birmingham, there are over 300 stop smoking providers offering support to smokers. One to one and group clinics are available at a range of settings including local pharmacies, General Practices and other venues such as local supermarkets and even at 'Quit Stop Shop' has been established.

Smokers are provided with confidential support and advice from a trained advisor and offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy such as the gum and patches. Services are free to any smoker living or working in Birmingham.

For further information on quitting and to find out about local clinics contact 'Call2Quit' on free phone 0800 052 5855 or text 'Quit' to 80 800. Alternatively, go to: http://smokefree.nhs.uk/

ENDS

Notes to editors

Photographs are available to download here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/sets/72157630446014670/

  • In Birmingham around 1 in 5 adults smoke, equating to around 185,000 smokers.
  • Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.
  • Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham's three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:
  • 1 in 4 of all cancers,
  • 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
  • 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease

Quitting smoking has been shown to have significant health benefits. Research has reported that a smoker who quits by the age of 30 years can increase their life expectancy by 10 years and quitting at the age of 50 halves the risk of smoking related mortality .

Treating diseases caused by smoking is estimated to cost the NHS around £5.2 billion every year equating to about 5.5 per cent of all NHS expenditure.

Smoking causes significant economic burden both in terms of increased health expenditure and cost to the Birmingham economy in the form of absenteeism, working days lost and premature retirement. Premature deaths from smoking is estimated to cost the Birmingham economy £24m each year.

Providing NHS Stop Smoking Services is just one approach to reducing the number of smokers in Birmingham. Through the leadership of Councillor Bedser, the city has a reinvigorated a successful Tobacco Control Alliance that brings together key partners from across the city to tackle tobacco-related issues. The 2011/12 tobacco control action plan focuses on work around reducing uptake of smoking by young people, reducing access to counterfeit tobacco and maintaining and creating a smokefree environments.

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