A response from Sir Peter Bottomley MP:
About 30 years ago I took an interest in how many death certificates mentioned smoking, and the answer was four.
The figure may be larger now, but we should encourage medical practitioners to say that the person had been an active smoker, even if it was not the primary cause of death so that at least people can become more aware of the issue.
As the single leading behavioural cause of preventable death across our country, responsible for around 64,000 deaths across England in 2019, reducing smoking is crucial for ensuring we live longer, healthier lives.
I have consistently made clear to the Government the need to learn the lessons from how we cut the drink-driving deaths whilst I was the responsible Minister in the 1980s. This was not achieved by public programmes, but by people doing the things that actually made a difference—that cut down the incidence and cut down the consequences and cut down the deaths. We changed the culture surrounding drink-driving and ensured that people understood and appreciated the dangers rather than simply prohibiting it.
The Government is currently reviewing existing tobacco control policies and the findings of an independent review, led by Javed Khan, of progress towards delivering a smoke-free England. Further information about the future of the Tobacco Control Plan will be available in due course.
The independent review made a number of recommendations, which included prohibiting smoking outside in hospitality venues; making hospital grounds smoke-free; and reducing smoking in social housing. I understand the Government is considering the detail of the review before responding in due course.
We share in a desire to see a healthy population, free from the toxic effects of smoking.