Their ‘A Vision for a Smokefree Northern Ireland’ manifesto advocates for a new comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy, which includes smoking prevention programmes available to children and young people, more accessible Stop Smoking Services, as well as increasing the age of tobacco sales to 21 years.
Tobacco is the foremost contributor to preventable illnesses and premature deaths in Northern Ireland. It is also linked with several non-communicable diseases including heart disease, cancer, including oral cancers, and lung disease. Around 2,300 people die from a smoking-related illness in Northern Ireland each year, with a further 18,000 hospital admissions attributed to smoking each year.
“We know smoking significantly raises the risk of developing oral cancers. Dentists are on the frontline, not only in screening for suspect cancers, but we’ve also seen dentists offering smoking cessation advice and interventions to their patients.
“BDA were pleased to be invited to attend this important launch, and we look forward to exploring how we can play our part in supporting this ambitious drive towards a smokefree Northern Ireland by 2035.” says BDA NI Director Tristen Kelso.
Along with its partners, ASH NI campaigns to achieve effective and comprehensive tobacco control policies and programmes, with the primary aim of seeing Northern Ireland become a society where less than 5% of the adult population is actively smoking.
“Our mission at Cancer Focus through ASH is to see Northern Ireland transformed into a smokefree society where people can enjoy healthier, smokefree lives.” says Richard Spratt, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. “We know the devastating impact of a disease like cancer on individuals and their loved ones, so we are committed to advocating for better policies that can help eliminate all smoking related conditions.
“Setting 2035 as a target will no doubt be challenging, but it will help drive a focused and ambitious aim to see Northern Ireland not just become smokefree, but a healthier and happier place to live”.
Alliance MLA and Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw added “This manifesto sets out clear priorities for the Department of Health and an Executive.
“It also represents an opportunity for Northern Ireland to take the lead on preventative health policy and implement policies that are both progressive and achievable with the right political will.
“For too long, Northern Ireland has been playing catch-up with other jurisdictions, so now is the time for our political parties to come together for the benefit of the people here and deliver some real change by putting these objectives into action.”