The Wales Tobacco Control Alliance has warned it intends to hold key agencies, including the Welsh Government, to account on its responsibilities in the national tobacco strategy, which includes improving smoking cessation services and reducing the harm caused by second hand smoke, particularly to children.
The Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales, which was published by the Welsh Government in February 2012, sets out a raft of measures to bring smoking rates down from 23% to 16% by 2020, and a Delivery Board has been set up to monitor the Plan’s progress.
Meeting at the Senedd this week to mark the first anniversary of the strategy, members of the 30- strong Alliance, which is led by ASH Wales, delivered a firm message to ministers that “we cannot afford to miss the 2020 target”.
ASH Wales young ambassador Carys Williams told AMs: “We have come a long way in Wales but we must do more in 2013 if we are to have any chance of achieving the target”.
She called on all local authorities in Wales to ban smoking in their playgrounds and the Welsh Government to ban smoking in cars carrying children immediately. She also said that the UK must introduce plain packaging of tobacco following its implementation in Australia. “No more pink packets, no more shiny boxes that look like perfume boxes, and no more packs that say ‘vogue’ on the front,” she told AMs.
Respiratory physician and ASH Wales board member Dr Keir Lewis told AMs of the “carnage” he sees every day as a result of tobacco and called on the Welsh Government not to weaken Wales’s smoke-free legislation by granting exemptions to any industry.
The event, which was sponsored by Labour AM for Cardiff North Julie Morgan was attended by AMs from all parties including the Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler and chair of the Assembly’s Health and Social Services Committee Mark Drakeford.
ASH Wales young ambassadors were also there to meet and greet Assembly Members and to showcase the work of the newly launched smoking cessation service for 11-25 year olds in Wales, The Filter.
ASH Wales has produced a short film about the benefits of smoke-free spaces across Wales through the eyes of young people. We are asking all local authorities in Wales to make their playgrounds smoke-free to protect children from the harm of second hand smoke. With everyone working together we believe we can make smoking history for our children: