Northern Ireland must not be left behind on scaling back tobacco sales, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed an announcement made by the Prime Minister at his party conference that there will be a vote in the UK Parliament on ensuring that no one currently aged 14 or under will be able to buy cigarettes in England. She has also cautioned that Northern Ireland must not be left behind on the issue.

Health Paula Bradshaw

The South Belfast MLA has said: "That there will be a vote in Parliament on this issue concerning the law in England is entirely welcome, largely because it highlights the ongoing issue of the damage caused by smoking and the reality that most people who smoke take it up early. By restricting cigarette sales to higher age groups, the likelihood of people taking up smoking in the first place will rapidly decline.


"However, this is only one step along the road to a genuinely smoke-free society. Although vaping was mentioned, there is less clarity around exactly what restrictions will be voted on applying to so-called 'e-cigarettes', which are increasingly the route young people take to nicotine addiction. What is required in Northern Ireland, where smoking prevalence is slightly higher than in the rest of the UK, is a Tobacco Control Strategy aimed at eliminating smoking-related diseases and conditions.


"To this end, I spoke at the launch of the 'Action on Smoking and Health' manifesto last month setting out a range of proposals and policies which will greatly enhance health outcomes in Northern Ireland.


“There remains an opportunity here for us to take the lead in preventative health policy by ensuring that people do not become addicted to nicotine in the first place, as well as by investing in programmes which support people to stop. Restricting sales is just one aspect of a wider strategy which needs to be put in place urgently to reduce smoking in all its forms, and thus reduce the harm caused to individual and collective health."