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Forest reacts to UK Government's new Tobacco Control Plan

Tue 18th July, 2017

Forest has criticised the targets set by government in its new Tobacco Control Plan and called on ministers to consult consumers before introducing any further measures.
Although the plan, announced today, lacks detail it nevertheless targets a further reduction in smoking rates, from 15.5 per cent down to 12 per cent by 2022.
Simon Clark, director of the smoker's group Forest, said:
"Setting targets encourages punitive measures. The best tobacco control plan puts education and choice ahead of prohibition and coercion."
Commenting on the commitment to extend smoking bans to all hospitals, mental health facilities and prisons, he added:
"In the 21st century tobacco control policies should focus on harm reduction products, not prohibition and other restrictive practises.
"Since the last Tobacco Control Plan was introduced in 2011 almost three million smokers have started vaping, with 1.5 million giving up smoking in favour of e-cigarettes.
"E-cigarettes and other harm reduction products are a game-changer because they offer consumers a pleasurable yet safer alternative to smoking.
"If however adults choose to smoke that is their right and it must be respected. Denormalising or punishing smokers is unacceptable."
Calling on ministers to "stop lecturing" consumers, Clark said:
"The most important stakeholder is the consumer yet they are routinely ignored by government. Ministers should stop lecturing smokers and engage with them."
Calling for a "systematic review" of existing tobacco control policies, including the use of taxpayers' money to fund smoking cessation services, Clark said:
"The Tobacco Control Plan should include a systematic review of the impact of measures such as the display ban and plain packaging.
"It's time too to question the use of public money to fund stop smoking services and other anti-smoking campaigns.
"The government must also grasp the opportunity provided by Brexit to abandon some of the policies included in the EU's Tobacco Products Directive.
"Some measures, including restrictions on the sale and promotion of e-cigarettes, are not only an attack on consumer choice, they are undoubtedly counter-productive."

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