Sadly in Crawley, one only has to step outside one’s front door for a few feet, to see the mess of discarded cigarettes ends. Our smoking rates in Crawley are much higher than the rest of West Sussex and our littering problem worse. It is estimated that 2/3rds of a million cigarettes butts are littered in Britain every day, many on our streets. Smoking is one of our biggest littering menaces and also one of the biggest preventable causes of accidental fires. Smoking pollutes the air and our environment.
All this is in additional to the well-known health damage that shortens lives and takes up vital healthcare resources. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable illness and death. It is also a huge waste of money, with it tending to be less well-off people who smoke.
Arguably, the best thing that the last Labour government did for the long-term health of the country, was introduce the ban of smoking in public indoor places. This was bold and I believe our current Conservative government will be remembered in a similar way for being bold in seeking to phase out smoking for good.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set out how future generations will be protected from ever taking up smoking, by creating the first smoke free generation. Children turning 14 this year or younger will never legally be able to buy cigarettes. Stopping the habit ever being taken up is much better than struggling to stop later in life. This will mean raising the age of sale by one year each year for this generation (born on or after 1 January 2009) to prevent them and future generations from ever taking up smoking in the first place.
In tandem with this policy, the Conservative government will double the funding of ‘stop smoking services’, will further crack down on youth vaping, by consulting on measures to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes to children, plus strengthening enforcement activity, through new funding and new powers to fine rogue retailers on the spot who sell tobacco products or vapes to people underage.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
18th October 2023