Government plans to create a smokefree generation and tackle youth vaping are being backed by Durham County Council.
At a full council meeting yesterday (6 December), a motion welcoming the Government’s “Stopping the Start” consultation was moved by Cllr Cathy Hunt and received cross-party support.
It was agreed that the council will respond to the consultation in support of the Government’s proposal to raise the legal age for tobacco sales.
Endorsement of proposed new measures to tighten the promotion, packaging, branding and pricing of vapes to reduce their appeal to children and young people was also agreed.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Chris Hood, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “Smoking remains the largest single cause of preventable deaths and is one of the largest causes of health inequalities in England.
“The harm of smoking falls on everyone within our society. The cost of smoking isn’t just on the individual but on the wider economy, such as health and social care costs, fire brigade call outs, and loss to the economy due to people being unwell and unable to work.
“Smoking kills up to two in three long-term users. Raising the age of sale in 2007 was successful in terms of reducing youth smoking and we hope for similar results from the raising of the age of sale in line with the government’s plans.”
Youth councillors Charlotte Foster, Alfie Dixon-Clark and Piotr Stelmaszczyk also attended the meeting to show their support for the motion.
The motion, which was carried without the need for a vote, reads as follows:
“Council welcomes the announcement from the Government on 4th October 2023 around a smokefree generation and the plans to stop a new generation of children and young people getting hooked on such a lethal addiction.
“Council also welcomes the subsequent consultation ‘Stopping the start – a plan to create a Smokefree generation’ which has questions around age of sale of tobacco, measures to reduce youth vaping, and enhanced enforcement. Council will continue to encourage smokers to try to quit including by an option of switching over to legal vaping.
“This council requests that the director of public health, in consultation with the Cabinet portfolio holder for adult and health services responds to the government’s consultation supporting the age of sale proposal for tobacco, and on vaping, proposing that evidence-based measures to tighten the promotion, packaging, branding, pricing of vapes to reduce appeal to children and young people are taken.”