Birmingham withdraws from Govt 'responsibility deal'

By on 30/07/2013 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Birmingham City Council is withdrawing support for the Government’s 'responsibility deal', citing disappointment at recent decisions on alcohol pricing and plain packaging for cigarettes.

The council, which assumed responsibility for public health across the city in April, will now develop its own plans to tackle major problems such as binge drinking and smoking.

Introduced in March 2011 the 'responsibility deal' is a series of voluntary pledges by industry designed to tackle major health issues like smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity.

Birmingham City Council signed up to the deal but is now withdrawing support following recent controversial Government decisions:

  • The decision not to press ahead with a minimum unit price for alcohol.
  • The failure to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “We’re withdrawing from the deal because we feel the Government has already broken the deal and is not acting responsibly.

“The two things that are driving this are our concerns about the Government’s failure to implement plain packaging and the failure to tackle cheap super strength alcohol. These failures will lead to more lives tragically being lost in the city.”

Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips labelled the decision to drop plans for a minimum unit price for alcohol 'a huge missed opportunity'. He added “I am really disappointed with the lack of progress with the responsibility deal across the country. Birmingham council signed up to the initiative when it was first announced but we now believe that there is no alternative but to try a different approach because it clearly hasn't worked.”

Birmingham will now look to local initiatives to tackle major public health issues and Cllr Bedser added: “We already have examples of successful local interventions - for example the hugely successful Be Active scheme to encourage physical activity.

“Now we'll look to see what we can learn from successful schemes elsewhere in the country - for example a very successful voluntary scheme in Ipswich to combat the menace of super strength alcohol.”

Birmingham context

Smoking

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.

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.

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

About half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. If you are a long-term smoker, on average, your life expectancy is about 10 years less than a non-smoker. Put another way, in the UK about 8 in 10 non-smokers live past the age of 70, but only about half of long-term smokers live past 70. The younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke for longer and to die early from smoking.

Drinking

  • While most people drink responsibly, alcohol misuse ruins thousands of lives in Birmingham and cost the city around £200 million last year.
  • Figures from Birmingham Drug and Alcohol Action Team show that 25 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women in the city are drinking above safe limits.
  • The damage caused by alcohol misuse includes:
  • At peak times, up to 70 per cent of all admissions to accident and emergency departments in Birmingham are related to alcohol;
  • 3,600 incidents of domestic violence (around a third) are linked to alcohol misuse;
  • Up to 170,000 working days are lost through alcohol-related absence, costing the city's economy about £30 million each year;
  • About 20,000 children in Birmingham are affected by parental alcohol problems;
  • Marriages where there are alcohol problems are twice as likely to end in divorce;
  • In 2009, half of all 11 to 15-year-olds in the city had already had an alcoholic drink;
  • Parental alcohol misuse has been identified as a factor in more than 500 child protection cases.

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