The Government will set out its response to a major review aimed at making England smoke-free by 2030 “in the coming weeks”, a minister has said.
Health minister Neil O’Brien told MPs the Government would soon bring forward its plans based on the recommendations of Dr Javed Khan, aimed at practically eliminating smoking across England by the end of the decade.
Dr Khan’s review, published last June, said smoking should be banned in outdoor spaces and that ministers will not meet the smoke-free target by 2030 without urgent reforms.
In a Westminster Hall debate, Conservative MP Bob Blackman pressed ministers to reveal when they would respond to the “clear road map” to meet the smoke-free plan, suggesting the Government had delayed too long.
Mr O’Brien said: “As many in this House have highlighted, last year the Government asked Dr Javed Khan to undertake his independent review to help the Government meet its smoke-free 2030 ambition and reduce the devastation that smoking causes.
“He asks when we will set out our response and in the coming weeks I will avail a set of proposals to realise the smoke-free 2030 ambition and respons to the recommendations in the Khan review.
“I would like to thank those in the House today for their patience. While I can’t divulge the specifics of the proposals at this time, I can assure you that they are grounded in the best evidence of reducing tobacco use and its associated harms.”
Mr Blackman had earlier told MPs that analysis by Cancer Research UK suggested the smoke-free 2030 target would not be met until 2039 “if recent trends continue”.
“This delay will cause around one million smoking-related cancer cases in the UK alone,” he said.
He called on ministers to reveal when they would respond to the Khan review, saying: “That set out policy recommendations that would see England through to becoming smoke-free by 2030, however, despite being given clear recommendations and a road map for how to achieve the target months ago, the Government has yet to respond.
“I understand ministers have changed over the last year … but it is not good enough that we haven’t had a response to that long-awaited review.”
The two biggest preventable causes of cancer in the UK are smoking and being overweight or obese, Cancer Research UK analysis released in February suggested.
Anti-smoking campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) remained sceptical about whether ministers would deliver on the promise to respond to the review.
Ash chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “Exactly nine months ago the Khan recommendations to the Government on making smoking obsolete were published.
“That’s the right length of time for a baby, but far too long for a Government strategy, particularly when the deadline to deliver the smoke-free ambition is 2030, and the Government itself admitted that it would be extremely challenging to achieve.
“The public health minister promised Parliament this afternoon that he will announce the further and faster action needed to deliver a smoke-free 2030 in coming weeks.
“We will watch with interest to see if he can deliver on this promise.”
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