NI must not be left behind on smoke-free generation - Bradshaw

Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has cautioned that Northern Ireland must not be left behind on the creation of a smoke-free generation, after plans to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone currently under the age of 14 and to restrict the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes across Great Britain were confirmed in the King's Speech.

The South Belfast MLA stated: "The general announcements on the NHS including improved workforce planning are, of course, what we could and should be doing in Northern Ireland with a functioning Executive. It is disappointing that the King's Speech did not include a commitment to reform the institutions in Northern Ireland so that we can get on with delivering in such areas.

"Another rapidly developing risk is that Northern Ireland will be left behind on restrictions on nicotine which are progressing in all three other jurisdictions of the UK, and which were confirmed in the King's Speech. The increasing use of so-called e-cigarettes or 'vapes' for purposes other than quitting smoking is risking the significant progress we have seen from reduced use of tobacco over the past few decades. That progress means fewer people are dying of or facing the challenge of living with smoking-related conditions. It has also resulted in improved air quality, which has improved overall well-being. That is why it is essential that progress is built upon rather than put at risk.

"With the rest of the UK now committed to legislating to restrict the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes, Northern Ireland will once again be playing catch-up in the absence of its own legislative institutions when in fact, given the scale of the waiting list crisis here, it should instead be striving to get ahead on such preventative measures.

"The King's Speech reinforces the need to restore the institutions urgently in the interests of all of our people's health and well-being."