An action plan tackling smoking rates across Wales has been launched today (Tuesday 19th September) following partnership work by leading health organisations and Welsh Government.
The renewed Tobacco Control Delivery Plan for Wales for 2017 - 2020 details a number of measures which aim to reduce smoking rates further than the current 19%, prevent young people from taking up the deadly habit in the first place and to improve health outcomes for all our communities.
The original Tobacco Control Delivery Plan - first created in 2012 - set a target of just 16% of the Welsh population still smoking by 2020. Part of renewing the plan for 2017 - 2020 was to see if this ambitious target was still attainable, which the Welsh Government believes it is. The 2016 target was achieved ahead of schedule with 19% adult smoking prevalence recorded in 2015.
There are around 5,450 deaths each year in Wales caused by smoking and the cost to the Welsh NHS is an estimated £302 million per year. Tobacco remains the number one cause of health inequalities; smoking rates among the ‘least deprived’ stand at 9%, versus 28% among the ‘most deprived’ – representing a 19% difference.
New legislation in the Public Health (Wales) Act, will play a key part in the new plan and in de-normalising smoking and protecting non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Additionally the Well-Being of Future Generations Act 2015 will ensure the impact of tobacco on individuals, now and in the future, will be limited across Wales’ communities.
Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, said: “As part of our plan for a healthier and more active Wales, we want to support as many people as possible to give up smoking.
“The Tobacco Control Delivery Plan 2017-2020 aims to make smoking cessation services provided by healthcare professionals more accessible. Reducing the rate of smoking will in turn reduce the number of number of people exposed to second hand smoke.
“I’m pleased that we are leading the way in protecting our future generations through the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, which includes a ban on smoking in playgrounds and school grounds. In order to continue the remarkable culture-change relating to smoking that we have seen in Wales in recent years, I want everyone to ‘Choose Smokefree’.”
Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive of ASH Wales, said: “2017 marked 10 years since the law banning smoking in enclosed places was introduced in Wales. We have seen public support for smokefree areas increase significantly in that time, more than 70% of the Welsh public support the smoking ban in hospital grounds and more than 60% say it should be banned in spaces, such as parks and beaches.
“The Plan will further reinforce the fact that smoking isn’t a normal, healthy activity for young people to take up and address the need to support those already smoking to quit with inclusive, easily accessible services.
“We thank Welsh Government for their support and for inviting ASH Wales to represent the third sector to renew the Tobacco Control Delivery Plan 2017 to 2020.”
The Tobacco Control Delivery Plan for Wales 2017 – 2020 has been created through the partnership working of Welsh Government, ASH Wales, Public Health Wales and other leading healthcare professionals.