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Written Statement - Public Health (Wales) Bill

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

I introduced the Public Health (Wales) Bill (“the bill”) into the Assembly today, 8 June 2015.

The bill marks the culmination of a long process of development and consultation, and continues Wales’ tradition of using legislation as a way to improve and protect the public’s health. It delivers an ambition to create an environment which promotes well-being, prevents ill health where possible, and provides people with new opportunities to look after and improve their own health.

The bill responds to a clearly defined set of issues, with each area seeking to make a positive contribution to the health and well-being of individuals and Wales as a whole. It is based on the main areas covered by last year’s Public Health White Paper consultation:

Tobacco and nicotine products

The bill brings the use of nicotine inhaling devices, such as e-cigarettes, into line with the use of tobacco cigarettes by restricting their use in enclosed public places, as advised by the World Health Organisation. In doing so it will help prevent e-cigarettes re-normalising smoking, prevent them acting as a gateway product to tobacco, and prevent their use from undermining the existing ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

The bill will also create a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products, which will assist enforcement agencies to uphold restrictions on their sale and prevent access by children and young people. It will also create a new offence of knowingly handing over tobacco or nicotine products to a person under the age of 18, in order to prevent access by children and young people through internet or telephone sales.

Special procedures

The bill creates a mandatory licensing system for businesses and practitioners who perform special procedures – namely acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis and tattooing. This will better protect the public from the harms of poor practice, and reinforce the high standards already present across much of the industry.

Intimate piercing

Following calls from a number of respondents to the Public Health White Paper, the bill now includes a general prohibition on the intimate piercing of people under the age of 16. This important step aims to both protect children and young people from potential health harms and prevent them being placed in vulnerable situations.

Pharmaceutical services

The bill makes important changes to the way in which pharmaceutical services are planned, through the use of pharmaceutical needs assessment. These changes will help ensure the system is more closely based on the broader public health needs of communities.

Provision of toilets

The bill places a duty on local authorities to prepare and publish strategies for the provision of toilets for public use within their area. The aim is to improve planning surrounding this important public health issue, and encourage a full range of options to be explored for ensuring appropriate facilities are available for the public.

I will make a statement on the bill to the Assembly tomorrow, 9 June 2015.

Details of the bill are available on National Assembly for Wales (external website).