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London Councillors Call for Smokefree Pavement Seating

smokefree

Councillors in London have asked the Government to introduce national smokefree conditions for pavement seating outside pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Smokefree seating

In a letter coordinated by the London Tobacco Alliance, a city-wide partnership to make London smokefree by 2030, councillors have expressed to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, that the current system is ‘too bureaucratic’ and ‘holds back’ many councils from introducing a smokefree condition.

Under rules introduced during the pandemic, hospitality businesses can apply to councils for a licence to allow them to place outdoor seating. Businesses are required to provide some smokefree seating, but local authorities can go further and make 100% smokefree pavement seating a condition of the licence.

Making England smokefree by 2030

In 2019, the Government published its green paper on preventative health; Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s. Here, it announced an ambition for England to become ‘smokefree’ by 2030 – achieved when adult smoking prevalence falls to 5% or less. A review carried out by Dr Javed Khan OBE was commissioned by the Government last year. Khan found that without further action, England will miss the smokefree 2030 target by at least 7 years, and the poorest areas in society will not meet it until 2044. To have any chance of hitting the smokefree 2030 target, the report argues that the Government needs to accelerate the rate of decline of people who smoke, by 40%.

Various recommendations were made such as the need to urgently invest £125 million per year in interventions to reach smokefree 2030, and make smoking obsolete, addressing the health disparities smoking creates (critical intervention). Within this, investing an increase of £70 million per year into stop smoking services, ringfenced for this purpose, distributed according to prevalence data.

Responses

Cllr Jim Dickson, joint cabinet member for Healthier Communities at Lambeth Council and Chair of Lambeth’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: ‘Smoking places a major burden on many of our most deprived communities and costs our city £3bn every year in lost economic productivity and health and social care costs.

‘London councils are committed to taking action to make our city smokefree, but we can’t do it alone. The Government should seize this opportunity to introduce national smokefree pavement seating to improve the health of Londoners and people across the country.’

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said “smokefree pavement seating was recommended in the Government’s own review of tobacco policies needed to make smoking obsolete led by Dr Javed Khan OBE last year. Allowing smoking sets a bad example to children, and smoke drifts, exposing customers and staff to toxic and unpleasant tobacco smoke. If the government is serious about delivering a smokefree England by 2030 they should implement this simple and popular measure.”

Final thought

Allowing councils the power to introduce 100% smokefree pavement seating areas would help the Government reach its target of making England smokefree by 2030. The damaging impacts of tobacco are well-understood and the Government must pursue further with policies to restrict people from smoking.

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