Blackpool MPs new call to tackle smoking to improve residents’ health as Conservatives prepare for conference in the town

Blackpool’s Conservative MPs have called for more action to tackle smoking-related health problems, as their party prepares to come to town for its spring conference.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 3:30 pm

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard and Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said that smoking is one of the biggest factors behind the town’s problems when it comes to health issues.

They said coronavirus had thrown Blackpool’s health inequality into sharp relief and it must be tackled as part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.

In a joint statement they said that, whether someone is born in Blackpool, Bristol or Bradford, should have no bearing on how long they live. Their education, their background and their upbringing should not impact their health outcomes. But it does.

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Blackpool MPs Scott Benton and Paul Maynard inside the Winter Gardens where the Conservative Party's Spring Conference will be held this coming weekend.

They said that in Blackpool smoking rates sit at 19.8 per cent, whereas in Wokingham in the South East, they are 5.5 per cent and that it was time for a new message and approach to getting the rates down.

They said: “It is undeniable that smoking causes a disproportionate burden on the most disadvantaged families and communities, like ours in Blackpool. Indeed, the last thing Blackpool Victoria Hospital needs is clinicians time being spent dealing with smoking related illness.

"The Government have made it an ambition for the whole country to be smoke-free by 2030, given how high the rates are in Blackpool, we wholeheartedly endorse this message. However, studies suggest we are set to miss this target by at least seven years.

"In England we could almost immediately provide each cigarette smoker with a targeted message on the alternatives that are available to them with inserts in packets of cigarettes that point to the alternatives available. Bizarrely, this is not currently allowed.

The Winter Gardens Conference Centre

"This does not display the joined up thinking we require to address this pressing issue head on.

"Moreover, another example of this lack of joined up thinking was the announcement that e-cigarettes would be available on the NHS, a move we both initially welcomed. However, it has since become clear that this is sadly not going to be the answer we hoped it would be.

“The verification process for a manufacturer to get certified is a long, drawn out and expensive process – sadly this is not going to benefit cigarette smokers in Blackpool who we need to reach the most.”

They said instead “smokeless tobacco products” should be used, which are both cheaper for nicotine addicts and thought to be less harmful.

They added: “With our country’s decision makers in Blackpool, we would urge them to heed this message.

"If we are serious about achieving health equality, we need to start with addressing our smoking rates, encouraging people in Blackpool and across the UK to stub out this habit for good or, at the very least, switch to a less harmful alternative.”

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