Birmingham health bosses have urged MPs not to put the interests of big business before the health of the nation’s children on Wednesday when they vote on unbranded cigarette packaging.
Plans to introduce standardised packaging have strong support from the public, health professionals and politicians in both the House of Lords and House of Commons.
Birmingham officials have long backed the introduction and three years ago, leading public health figures in the city wrote to the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley outlining their support for plans to standardise cigarette packaging.
Now, following a series of public consultations, MPs are set to vote on the issue and Birmingham Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr John Cotton, hopes England will follow the lead of Australia, who introduced standardised tobacco packaging in December 2012.
He said: “Like the introduction of the smoking ban in 2007, this vote can have a major impact future generations in Birmingham and I hope the MPs put the health of our children before the profits of tobacco companies.
“In Birmingham around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking and shockingly, nine Birmingham children take up smoking every single day.
“I’m confident that if approved, plain packaging will help us reduce that depressing statistic.”
Birmingham Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, added: “If we look at the Australian experience for example, there’s strong evidence to show that plain or standardised packs are less appealing to young people.
“So the introduction of plain packaging will be a substantial step in the right direction as we look to help our young people avoid lives blighted by smoking related ill-health.”
Smoking in Birmingham
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 are 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.
Stop smoking in Birmingham
Giving up smoking is not easy but with help and support from our stop smoking service, you are up to four times more likely to stop than with will power alone.
For friendly, expert advice and support on how to quit smoking, call the Birmingham stop smoking service on 0800 052 5855 free or text ‘QUIT’ to 80800.
For more information about Stop Smoking services in Birmingham, go to: http://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/about-us/services-directory/adults-and-communities/citywide-services/stop-smoking/