Tobacco Control Survey results released exclusively at TSI Conference
21% of adults in England still smoke
Decline in smoking levels has slowed down and 21% of adults in England still smoke, according to headline results of the Tobacco Control Survey released exclusively at Trading Standards Institute Conference in Bournemouth (Wednesday 22 June).
Lee McGill, Tobacco Policy Manager at the Department of Health, said: “Smoking is the single biggest cause of inequality in death rates between the richest and poorest in our communities. This inequalities argument is a powerful driver for action on tobacco control at local and national levels.”
Deaths from smoking are higher than the next six most common causes of preventable death combined - suicide, alcohol-related, road traffic accidents, other accidents and falls, diabetes, drug-related - an incredibly striking fact, said Mr McGill. There were 81,400 smoking-related deaths in England in 2009.
And he added: “It is not only health arguments that can hold sway – the economic burden of smoking is massive. The Policy Exchange report ‘Cough Up’ last year attempted to cost this and showed that the overall economic cost of tobacco use is estimated at £13.74 billion a year.”
The Tobacco Control Survey was conducted by the Local Government Group (representing local authorities) amongst trading standards services on behalf of the Department of Health. Results were issued at the Trading Standards Institute Conference to a packed audience of representatives from trading standards, Citizens Advice, elected local government councillors and business.
Its release coincides with the forthcoming consultation on plain packaging of tobacco products, contained within the Healthy Lives: Healthy People (Tobacco Control Plan). Dennis Ager, joint lead officer for age-restricted sales and lead officer for health, said: “This legislation will be a further step in the right direction towards creating an environment in which smoking continues to be less attractive to children, as well as supporting adult smokers who are attempting to quit.”
The conference heard that treating smoking-related illnesses is estimated to have cost the NHS £2.7 billion in 2006/2007 – more than £50 million each week. Around 463,000 hospital admissions in England in 2008/2009 among adults aged 35 and over were attributable to smoking – that’s 5% of all hospital admissions for this age group.
Mr McGill said that trading standards officers have an essential role to play in wider efforts to reduce smoking rates faster in the next five years than has been achieved in the past five years. The Tobacco Control Plan for England, published this spring (March 2011), places trading standards at the heart of a number of the plan’s key actions to reduce smoking, including controlling tobacco promotion and local enforcement of tobacco legislation.
The Tobacco Control Survey 2010-2011 drew findings from an online survey of tobacco control activities carried out with trading standards services in 150 local authorities in England. The trading standards services visited a total of 4,055 premises overall.
The survey found that 85 per cent reported that cigarettes or tobacco products had been sold to “volunteer children” in at least one premises. This means that 666 premises sold tobacco to “volunteer children” during the test purchases, equal to 16% of premises visited and an increase from 15% the previous year.
Mr McGill said: “To achieve the Government’s ambitions to drive down smoking rates, everyone involved in tobacco control at all levels must work in partnership, and trading standards authorities and officers are vital partners if current and future legislation is to be effective.”
Full results of the recently completed Tobacco Control Survey will be released by the Department of Health in autumn this year (2011).
Notes for Editors:
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The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2011
The national Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference and Exhibition 2011, organised by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is a 'must' for consumer journalists! The TSI-hosted annual Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe.
The 2011 Conference is being held at the Bournemouth International Centre from Tuesday 21 June to Thursday 23 June. The conference is hosted by TSI president Baroness Christine Crawley and TSI chairman Peter Heafield.
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Some 2,000 people are expected to attend the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations. There will be in excess of 100 exhibitors. This makes it an ideal place for consumer affairs journalists to mingle and make contacts!