Blair: Tobacco Campaigners Bids A Fond Farewell
Action on Smoking and Health marked Prime Minister Tony Blair's departure with a salute to his contribution to public health today. In recent days Blair himself has acknowledged that he had to be persuaded to support the policy of smokefree public places
Action on Smoking and Health marked Prime Minister Tony Blair's departure with a salute to his contribution to public health today. In recent days Blair himself has acknowledged that he had to be persuaded to support the policy of smokefree public places in England's indoor work places which comes into effect on July 1. However campaigners noted that reducing the harm from smoking was one of the earliest priorities of the New Labour Government.
The 1998 White Paper Smoking Kills represented a milestone in tobacco policy. The policy blue print shaped government priorities the first half of the Blair premiership but was eventually overtaken by the momentum it created.
Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:
"The smoking debate has shown two sides of Tony Blair. Smoking Kills showed us New Labour new to power and full of bright ideas and ambitions. The debate on smokefree public places showed the seasoned politician who listened to public opinion and was - finally - open to persuasion. Tactics were deployed and targets broadly met but we continue to find ourselves in a country where one adult in 5 is a smoker who wants to quit and where smoking remains a most potent factors in health inequalities. The Conservative Party are already putting together a radical policy for tackling health inequalities. That is Gordon Brown's home ground. It will be interesting to see how the new Brown premiership responds."
 Smoking Kills was published in December 1998.
 Public Health Our Priority is a current consultation by the Conservative Research Department
 24% of Adults in England smoke and 70% of smokers in England say they would like to quit.