Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services
When I presented the Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales in December 2011, I gave an undertaking to update you on progress to implement the Delivery Plan and to develop an independent review on smoking cessation. The Action Plan was well received by Assembly Members and aims to reduce smoking prevalence levels to 16% by 2020 with an ultimate vision of a smoke-free society for Wales.
During the debate on the Action Plan, I informed the National Assembly a strategic delivery board would be established by the Welsh Government to oversee the progress of the Tobacco Control Delivery Plan. In February I agreed the Board’s membership, which is made up of key stakeholders who are responsible for implementing actions in the plan.
The board will meet three times a year and met for the second time on the 9th July. Minutes from the Board meetings will be publically available from the Welsh Government website and Board members will also be disseminating updates through their local networks to ensure the Board is accountable.
The role of the Board is to drive forward, support and oversee the progress of the Tobacco Control Delivery Plan, which sets out the responsibilities for each action within the Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales and timescales for implementation. I will carefully consider the advice provided by the Board and decide how priority actions will be delivered by the Welsh Government.
Eight key actions have been identified in the Delivery Plan which will need to be addressed if the challenging aim of driving down smoking levels to 16% by 2020 is going to be achieved. My officials will provide regular updates to the Board on how these are being progressed.
In many Local Authority areas, there are local tobacco groups developing, with partners from the NHS and the Third Sector, their own local tobacco control plans. The Delivery Board has already identified Local Authorities who have developed their own local tobacco control action plans and my officials will be working closely with the Board and key stakeholders to ensure a consistent approach to reporting outcomes. These local plans should develop appropriate and measurable outcomes which can feed into the work being undertaken by the Board at a strategic level.
We recognise the number of smokers who successfully quit will need to increase significantly if the overall target in the Action Plan is going to be achieved. One of the most important of the 8 Key Actions is for the Welsh Government to set up an independent review on smoking cessation. The review is being developed to identify both improvements which can be made to existing work and further action which will assist in achieving the target in the Action Plan.
The independent review will be a system review rather than a review of individual services as there are different entry points for accessing smoking cessation services. My officials are working closely with the Delivery Board to ensure key stakeholders have the opportunity to input into the development of the review. This will ensure the review is transparent and open.
Board members have advised the review should consider how easy it is for people to access smoking cessation services and the impact smoking cessation brief intervention training of midwives has had on the number of pregnant women who are accessing smoking cessation services. The Delivery Board has also suggested the review covers services offered within primary and secondary care, including pharmacy settings and the development of a comprehensive National Smoking Cessation database.
All of these elements will contribute to the review establishing how services are currently being delivered. My officials have ensured all of the recommendations from the Delivery Board and stakeholders are included in the review specification which will go out to competitive tender shortly.
Another key action is continuing to encourage young people not to take up smoking and to support those who have already started to give up. The Tobacco Control Action Plan recommends social marketing should be used as part of a strategy to encourage young people not to take up smoking in the first place and to support current smokers to quit.
Following the recent discussions in the Assembly, I have asked the Delivery Board to take forward the suggestion made by William Graham AM during Plenary on the 26th June 2012 for a No Smoking month to support children and young people to stop smoking. The campaign will be delivered alongside the ASH Wales social media project and national smoking cessation programme to support young people to successfully quit.