Hounslow Seeks To Lose Unwanted Smoking Title

Borough has highest proportion of adult smokers in London

Off Licence cigarette counter
Off Licence cigarette counter. Picture: Hounslow Council

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November 30, 2023

Hounslow Council is urging its residents to partake in a government consultation as it backs its plans for a ‘smokefree generation’. Hounslow has the highest rate of adult smokers in London and far exceeds the UK average according to NHS data.

The government consultation will look at three areas consulting on the smokefree generation policies and their scope, how to tackle youth vaping and enforcement including consulting on the proposal to introduce new powers for local authorities in England and Wales to issue fixed penalty notices.

With 16.3% of adult residents in the borough being smokers, Hounslow Council has described the consultation and potential of a smokefree generation as a “momentous occasion”. The council has also raised concerns that the harmful activity is more prevalent in areas of deprivation, and in specific groups such as adults with serious mental health issues and adults in routine and manual occupations.

The government calls smoking “the single most entirely preventable cause of ill health, disability, and death in the UK” with figures showing that it kills around 80,000 people a year. The Action on Smoking and Health report on the use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain shows that the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past three years and a staggering 20.5% of children in Great Britain had tried vaping in 2023.

Due to nicotine content and the unknown long-term harms, vaping carries risks to health and lifelong addiction for children. In the consultation’s preamble, the government writes, “The health advice is clear: young people and people who have never smoked should not vape.”

Government figures say that in England up to 75,000 GP appointments could be attributed to smoking each month – equivalent to over 100 appointments every hour. Hounslow Council have said that although it acknowledged that stricter rules on smoking and vaping could affect local businesses and it would attempt to help mitigate the impact, it also said that the consultation was a chance to reduce the burden currently on the NHS.

Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Transformation, said, “The proposed policy would transform our borough for decades to come.

“It’s therefore very important that the people of Hounslow feel informed and involved in this process by understanding the proposals, completing the consultation and getting their voice heard. This could be a momentous occasion and we have the chance to improve people’s health and reduce the burden on our NHS.

“But we have to make sure we don’t hamper our health services’ efforts to help people to stop smoking tobacco and we must also make sure our small businesses aren’t adversely affected by the legislation. At the Council we are in touch with our key partners to raise awareness of this issue and we’re encouraging them to share this consultation far and wide. I hope community leaders across Hounslow will do the same.”

The deadline for submissions to the consultation is 6 December.

Rory Bennett - Local Democracy Reporter

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