- Meeting of Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 13th March 2019 6.00 p.m. (Item 50.)
The Committee received a report providing detail on Wirral Partnership’s Smokefree Strategy and some of the key challenges and opportunities in helping local people live a tobacco free life, helping to make smoking less acceptable and putting young people off starting. In introducing the report, the Acting Director for Health and Wellbeing and the Senior Public Health Manager gave a presentation providing further context to the Smokefree Strategy and its part in Wirral Together as a developing relationship between the Council, partner agencies and the community.
In 2018, Wirral Partners participated in the Public Health England CLeaR improvement process to ensure that local action on tobacco control was achieving our vision, that our resources were being invested wisely on tobacco control and smoking cessation, and that local strategies were delivering. This assessment had resulted in 12 recommendations that were outlined in the submitted report. Also in 2018 the NHS Long Term Plan had been published with an emphasis on the prevention of poor health and had advocated particular actions for the health service in stepping up their work in this area.
Taken together, the Smokefree Wirral Strategy, the CLeaR assessment and the NHS Long Term Plan provided opportunities for developing excellence in local tobacco control, including -
· encouraging a clean, healthy environment with a focus on children and young people’s settings;
· opportunities for local businesses and organisations to operate smokefree sites; and
· the development of regeneration plans to include smokefree parks, play areas, high streets, areas of beaches and country parks, NHS sites and Council sites.
In response to a query, it was confirmed that figures did show that people on the east of the Borough were more likely to die younger than those on the west, and that smoking rates were higher on the east side. There were various inequality issues associated with this, and the challenge was to have a different conversation or offer across the various communities.
A Member queried how it was intended to achieve the objective of creating healthy smoke free environments when people might talk about liberties and rights. Officers noted that the Strategy was aspirational, and that the Service would work with those who were willing. It was noted that progression of smoking cessation had been an incremental process, but that smoke-free legislation could be regarded as being successful. With regard to secondary smoking, in response to a query the Acting Director undertook to forward any information available as to the health impacts on non-smokers of legislation preventing in-door smoking in public spaces.
In noting progress in smoking cessation, a Member queried how the message was put over to young people not to smoke in the first place. It was acknowledged that the prevention message needed to be strong, advised that services do see young people and prevention work had been carried out, and noted that work needed to be undertaken in family settings also. With regard to schools, while some work was undertaken it was acknowledged that not as much work was done in these settings as in the past due to the changing nature of school structures. However, the public health contract was being re-commissioned and it was intended to include this issue alongside others such as drugs, alcohol and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Members queried the use and contribution of e-cigarettes in tackling smoking. The Acting Director advised that views were mixed on this issue, but suggested that e-cigarettes were one way of providing help to people who wished to quit smoking. However, it was necessary to ensure that e-cigarettes do not become a gateway to smoking. Further to reference to Wirral’s stop smoking service ABL, it was reported that people could self-refer or be referred by a GP. It was noted that people were four times more likely to stay quitted if they used a behaviour support service.
A Member queried whether it was possible for the Committee to agree to the recommendations of the CLeaR report without sight of the full report. The Committee was advised that the full report was awaiting sign-offs and that it could be submitted in the future should Members so wish. Regarding this future submission, a Member requested that information be presented with a Ward breakdown.
Concluding, the Acting Director advised that all Councillors would shortly be receiving correspondence form Cancer Research UK about Councils disinvesting in services in this area. Members were asked to note that this Council retained services and had been commended for its local services.
(1) the Smokefree Wirral Strategy update be noted, along with the opportunities presented by the Strategy and the NHS Long Term Plan for developing excellence in local tobacco control; and
(2) the Committee give further consideration to the CLeaR report and the recommendations contained therein.