Smoking cessation services are vital in encouraging people to stop smoking. They are proven to be the most effective way to help people quit. People are much more likely to stop smoking with support than they are through an unaided attempt.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to introduce a levy on tobacco firms.
During the last Parliament, the Coalition government consulted on introducing a tobacco levy. However, as you know, the current government has decided not to introduce a levy on tobacco manufacturers and importers.
In the March 2016 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the government will instead continue the tobacco duty escalator and increase the duty on hand-rolling tobacco by an additional 3 per cent above the escalator.
The NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October 2014, states that the sustainability of the NHS depends on radical upgrade in prevention and public health. Yet, in the 2015 Spending Review the Chancellor announced reductions in funding of 3.9 per cent to local authority public health spending over the next five years. This is in addition to the £200 million of in-year cuts announced in June 2015.
I believe that the government is wrong not to have adequately funded public health care in the current year and going forward. I oppose this short-term approach and share the many concerns raised with me about the impact that these cuts will have on smoking cessation and other public health services.
The government should listen.