We welcomed this consultation as in 2020 our State of Child Health report called for Welsh Government to set targets to become a tobacco free generation (defined as a smoking prevalence of <5%), including smoking reduction targets for pregnant women.
The purpose of this consultation was for Welsh Government to set out their ambition for a smoke-free Wales by 2030. To support this ambition, the strategy focuses on three key themes: Reducing Inequalities, Future Generations and A Whole-System Approach for a Smoke-Free Wales.
Towards a Smoke Free Wales: Tobacco Control Delivery 2022-2024 is the first in a series of two-year delivery plans. These delivery plans will detail the actions that will be undertaken and supported by Welsh Government as we work towards a smoke-free Wales.
We drew upon evidence from our State of Child Health data and recommendations around health behaviours, prevention of ill health maternal and perinatal health. We also highlighted the recent publication of the RCPCH’s new policy recommendations on vaping in young people.
- We agreed with the proposed ambition of Wales becoming smoke-free by 2030 and the approach being taken by Welsh Government to achieve this. Our State of Child Health report in 2020 called for Welsh Government to set targets to become a tobacco free generation (defined as a smoking prevalence of <5%), including smoking reduction targets for pregnant women. We asked for these targets to be monitored and reported against regularly.
- We welcomed reducing inequalities as a key theme in the strategy as we felt that this would be vital in supporting the ambition of Wales becoming smoke-free by 2030. Our indicators revealed a widening gap between the health of children from wealthy and deprived backgrounds. Welsh Government should act to tackle the causes of poverty and reduce variation to ensure all children have the best start to life, wherever they are.
- Data consistently shows us that poverty and inequality impact a child’s whole life, affecting their education, housing and social environment and in turn impacting their health outcomes. We asked Welsh Government to acknowledge high poverty rates, review existing programmes and publish a strategy to reduce child poverty. This strategy should provide national targets to reduce child poverty rates and specific health inequality targets for key areas of child health, with clear accountability across Government.
- We welcomed the extension of smoke-free areas in 2019 to cover hospitals, schools and near playgrounds. Welsh Government should deliver the provisions in the Public Health (Wales) Act relating to smoking and clearly set out how these would be implemented and enforced. We called on Welsh Government to explore this further and for them to review how existing bans have been enforced in Wales.
- In our response we welcomed a whole-system approach to tobacco control and the opportunity to work collaboratively with organisations as it is paramount to achieving the desired outcome of having a smoke-free Wales. We will not know what is working until after Year 2 therefore quality data collection needs to be prioritised to ensure that the aims of the strategy are being measured and achieved.
- We agreed with the approach being taken and the data sources that will be used to monitor the smoking rates across Wales.
- We also welcomed the monitoring of the Student Health and Wellbeing in Wales survey for smoking and vaping behaviours in young people aged 11-16. We called on Welsh Government to prohibit all forms of marketing of e-cigarettes to children and young people, for example by marketing sweet flavours.
- The RCPCH recently published policy recommendations on vaping in young people. In the absence of long term data and limited evidence on the impact of vaping in young people, our recommendations aim to prevent uptake and protect them from the harms of vaping, avoiding the messaging that it's safer than tobacco.
- We asked Welsh Government to consider whether the evidence suggests that use of tobacco and / or vaping products by children under 11 requires further monitoring in the future. We welcomed increased data collection on vaping in children and young people as currently there is a lack of evidence for this health behaviour.
- We said that it would be helpful to have a mid-point review in the strategy to make sure that the two-year delivery plans are being adequately monitored and are achieving their aims / targets. If it is agreed for a mid-point review to be built in it would be beneficial for this to be published.
- We agreed with the five priority areas outlined by Welsh Government which covers April 2022 – March 2024, these being: smoke-free environments, continuous improvement and supporting innovation, Priority Groups, tackling illegal tobacco and the tobacco control legal framework and working across the UK.