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Smoking: Plan to make Wales ‘smoke-free’ by 2030

Plans to make Wales “smoke-free” by 2030 have been launched by the Welsh government.

About 14% of Wales’ population currently smoke, but it is hoped the figure will fall below 5% by the end of the decade.

Smoking was banned in playgrounds, school grounds and hospital grounds earlier this year.

The move has been welcomed by health experts, but pro-smoking group Forest said personal choice must be respected.

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A consultation, allowing people to share their views on how to create a smoke-free society, was launched by deputy minister for wellbeing Lynn Neagle on Monday.

She said: “Whilst we have made progress in recent years in reducing the number of people smoking, we want to go further and be ambitious to create a Wales where smoking is far from the norm.”

Wales’ chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton, said there were 5,600 smoking-related deaths in over-35s in 2018.

Suzanne Cass, chief executive of the tobacco control action group Ash Cymru, told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast the group was “absolutely delighted” with the target, but a “different approach” was needed.

She said: “We really need to be looking to making sure we’re doing things differently – what we’re doing at the moment is not good enough so digital solutions to help people to quit smoking and also support young people.

“At the moment we’ve got 9% of 15 to 16-year-olds still smoking.

“We’ve been working in training colleges across Wales and we’re finding the number of young people who are smoking in those training colleges is up to 40%, so there needs to be a new approach to that.”

She said policies to clamp down on illegal tobacco, support for people being admitted to hospital and digital tools would help reach the target.

Health experts also supported the plan.
Dr Olwen Williams, vice president for Wales of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “We welcome this new strategy and its central target of a smoke-free Wales by 2030.

“Smoking is still the main cause of premature death in Wales, killing thousands of people every year, and as we emerge from this pandemic, it’s important that we face up to the impact of avoidable illness.”

Dr David Tuthill, officer for Wales at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child health, said the announcement was “welcome news”.

He said: “Smoking is detrimental to the health of young people throughout their lives, from higher rates of cot death to unnecessary hospital admissions for chest problems.”

Smoking will also be banned in hotel bedrooms and self-contained accommodation in Wales in 2022.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Tobacco is a legal product. No-one should be forced to quit smoking yet freedom of choice and personal responsibility are being replaced by coercion and creeping prohibition.

“Smokers should be informed about safer nicotine products like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco but ultimately, if adults still choose to smoke, that choice must be respected by government and society.”