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Lung Cancer: North West

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1497-8W, on cancer, what steps his Department is taking (a) to reduce the incidence of lung cancer and (b) to reduce the incidence of smoking by young people under the age of 16 years in the North West. (259469)

The cancer reform strategy, published in December 2007, sets out guidance to the local national health service on how to improve cancer prevention, speed up the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, reduce inequalities, improve the experience of people living with and beyond cancer, ensure care is delivered in the most appropriate settings and ensure patients can access effective new treatments quickly. It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) to use the funds made available to them and work in partnership with strategic health authorities, local services, cancer networks and other local stakeholders to deliver these aims. Information on the work being done in the north-west can be obtained from the individual PCTs directly.

Through the cancer reform strategy’s national awareness and early diagnosis initiative, the Department, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, is co-ordinating a programme to support local interventions to increase cancer symptom awareness, and encourage people to seek help early.

‘High Quality Care for All’, the final report of the NHS next stage review, said that every PCT will commission comprehensive wellbeing and prevention services, in partnership with local authorities, with personalised services offered to meet the specific needs of their local populations. It stated that efforts must be focused on a number of key goals, including reducing smoking rates.

Reducing smoking among young people is a priority for the Government. Much has already been achieved in this area, including raising the age of sale of tobacco products and legislation to strengthen sanctions available against retailers who persistently sell tobacco to children and young people. Smoking is also addressed in the national curriculum and through the healthy schools programme.

Protecting children and young people from smoking was one of four key aspects of the Department’s consultation on the future of tobacco control published on 31 May 2008. Responses to the consultation are informing the development of a new strategy on tobacco control, which will include action to continue to tackle the uptake of smoking by young people.

The Government this year are taking forward tobacco control legislation intended to protect and support young people in the Health Bill. The Health Bill includes a prohibition on the display of tobacco products, which will help to eliminate the marketing of tobacco products, to which young people are susceptible. The Bill will also provide powers to restrict or ban the sale of tobacco from vending machines, removing a major source of tobacco for young people.

Local stop smoking services are able to provide a range of support options to anyone wanting to quit smoking, including young people. Resources are also available that can be accessed by smokers direct on smoking cessation, these include the national health service ‘gosmokefree’ website and from the general NHS smoking helpline (0800 169 0169).