Public health charity ASH Wales has welcomed the publication today of a Draft Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales by the Welsh Assembly Government. The Action Plan contains proposals to reduce adult smoking prevalence rates from 24% to 16% by 2020.

Commenting on the release of the Action Plan ASH Wales Chief Executive Tanya Buchanan said: “We are delighted that the Action Plan has finally been published and that all parties will now be able to comment on the proposals. I urge all those interested in protecting and improving the health of Welsh people and future generations to respond to the consultation. This is an historic day for public health in Wales and the best news since the smoking ban was introduced in 2007. The Action Plan is the first such strategic plan for Wales which aims to systematically address smoking prevalence rates which have stagnated at 24%, and ensure our young people are protected from second-hand smoke.

"Of equal importance is the need to provide assistance to smokers who want to quit and we welcome the news that consideration is being given to developing online services for smokers and training for health professionals.

"It is unfortunate that the Welsh Assembly Government has not been bolder and agreed to implement the measures to protect children from tobacco advertising and marketing by banning shop displays of tobacco and the sale of tobacco from vending machines. Wales has its own powers to introduce these measures and it must be bold and get on with it.”

ASH Wales is a member of the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance, an alliance of 30 voluntary sector and professional bodies in Wales, and Alliance partners have also welcomed the publication of the Draft Action Plan:

Delyth Lloyd, Press and Public Affairs Manager, British Heart Foundation Cymru: “Smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Smokers are twice as likely to have a fatal heart attack as people who have never smoked. British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru welcome the announcement of a Tobacco Control Plan by the Welsh Assembly Government. We hope this strategy will provide the broad vision in Wales that is necessary to address the heavy health inequalities and health consequences caused by smoking, smuggling and the continuing problems of exposure to second hand smoke in Wales.”

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Tobacco Control: “The publication of a comprehensive tobacco control action plan is very welcome. The terrible death and suffering caused by tobacco demands that the plan needs to be implemented as ambitiously as possible. Communications campaigns to support people to quit, leadership at local level and Welsh Assembly Government support for price increases, removal of tobacco displays and plain packaging of tobacco are especially important.”

Chris Mulholland, Head, British Lung Foundation Wales: “Reducing exposure to second-hand smoke is especially important to protect children’s lung health. In a car, smoking just one cigarette, even with the window open, creates a greater concentration of second-hand smoke than a whole evening's smoking in a pub or a bar. Worse still, children's lungs are more vulnerable to damage than an adult's, as their immune system is not fully developed. Protecting our children must be top priority. They should not be forced to smoke.”

Notes

The consultation on the tobacco control action plan can be viewed on the Welsh Government website.