Agenda item

Wirral Residents Live Healthier Lives; Tobacco Control and Alcohol Strategies


Julie Webster (Head of Public Health) and Rebecca Mellor (Public Health Manager) introduced a report that set out the Wirral Residents Live Healthier Lives; Tobacco Control and Alcohol Strategies.


This report provided the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee with copies of the draft strategies developed to address tobacco and alcohol use in the borough as outlined in the Wirral Plan Healthy Lives pledge: “We want all of our residents to have a good quality of life and live healthy lifestyles in clean and safe environments”.


The Chair introduce Ms Webster and commented on the quality of the Tobacco Control and Alcohol Strategies produced under the leadership of Councillor Janette Williamson, Cabinet Member for Public Health


The Head of Public Health informed that both Strategy documents were currently draft versions, and had not yet been approved by Cabinet and that further work was required on both strategies to agree timelines and lead partners. The strategies were being presented to the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee for comment prior to agreement by Cabinet and publication.


The Head of Public Health stated that smoking remains the single greatest risk factor for poor health and early death in Wirral.  Smoking still kills and that the job of tobacco control remains of great importance when one in five deaths each year in Wirral is related to smoking.  Smoking is the principal cause of health inequalities and there are still young people starting to smoke every day.


She further stated that excess alcohol drinking also brings many challenges:


  • For the individual, regular drinking risks a future burdened by illnesses such as cancer, liver cirrhosis and heart disease, and a taste for alcohol can turn all too easily into dependence.


  • For families, alcohol dependence can lead to relationship breakdown, domestic violence and impoverishment. For communities, alcohol can fuel crime and disorder and transform town centres into no-go areas.


  • For society as a whole, the costs of alcohol consumption include both the direct costs to public services and the substantial impact of alcohol-related absenteeism on productivity and earnings.


Following the Head of Public Health’s verbal report, Members questioned Ms Webster on matters relating to the strategies that included working with licenced and off-licence premises, responsible retailers, the use of planning briefs for exclusion zones, cumulative impact studies and the sharing of data to support decision making processes.


Members commented on the use of education and most effective age at which to introduce the subject of the impact on health of smoking and drinking, and the differing levels of smoking and drink related health issues across different parts of the Wirral.


A Member commented on the removal of Magistrates controls on the matter of ‘Need and Cumulative Impact’ in relation to procedures when considering the licencing of premises / off-licences. It was noted that changes had been effected as a result of revision to section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003. The People Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed that clarification on the Council’s approach to ‘Need and Cumulative Impact’ be raised with the Chair of the Council’s Licencing Committee.


Resolved – That


1)  the report, and draft Tobacco Control and Alcohol Strategies be noted; and


2)  the Chair of the Licencing Committee be informed of the views of the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee regarding the changes to the 2003 Act.   


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