The London Tobacco Alliance (LTA) launched last week to help partner organisations work together better to prioritise the health of Londoners, promote more smoke-free environments, and reduce the health inequalities associated with smoking.
Partners include directors of public health, representatives from the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities, the NHS, councils, the Greater London Authority, voluntary organisations and academic institutions.
Chris Streather, medical director NHS England in London, said: “Smoking is probably the thing that causes the most avoidable harm to our population. We made real strides 20 years ago restricting smoking in public places. But since then, we haven’t done as many big things that have made a difference. There are still a hugely significant number of people still smoking and worryingly there are a lot of pregnant women who smoke. So now is a really good time, particularly as we recover from the pandemic, to focus on things we can do to prevent harm for large numbers of people.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, Regional director for London Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, said: “Regional tobacco alliances work. We have great examples of where they’ve been highly effective in other parts of the country and we’re now keen to bring the learning and expertise from that to bring to bear here in London. Through the alliance we’ll be able to understand what’s being delivered in the city at this time, where the gaps are and how working together we can help to fill those gaps and ensure we are more than the sum of our parts.”
Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on tobacco, said:“My parents died when I was 23. They both died of cancer. Both died because of smoking. We had two years prior to their death of terrible experience, in terms of health and me seeing my parents die literally in front of me. I don’t want any family to go through that and so therefore for me, it’s not just a health-related issue or a community issue. For me it’s personal.
“If we can actually make this work then we reduce down the terrible impact that tobacco has on society.”
Tracy Parr, programme director for London Tobacco Alliance and Stop Smoking London, said:“The London Tobacco Alliance will act as a regional voice to make London smokefree by 2030 and will focus on the inequalities around smoking. We already have a number of key partners including OHID, ASH, NHS England, the GLA as well as Directors for Public Health and London Trading Standards.
“The Alliance works by convening partners and experts, to share best-practice, innovations and up to date insights as well as identify opportunities for tackling illicit tobacco.“