Government ‘arrogant’ over smokeless tobacco decision

The decision to not legalise smokeless tobacco has been labelled as “arrogant” by a former Conservative minister.

During Commons health questions, Christopher Chope (Con, Christchurch) said that through introducing the use of a smokeless tobacco snus, 30,000 lives could be saved each year.

He stated: “Don’t you realise that based on the Swedish experience, if snus was legalised in the UK, it would save up to 30,000 lives a year.

“And don’t you realise that even the World Health Organisation recognises snus as a useful harm reduction product.”

Health minister Gillian Merron responded that there had been no evidence available that snus helps people quit smoking, suggesting safer ways such as licensed nicotine replacement medicines.

Merron said she had seen the packaging on smokeless products and “even the tobacco industry acknowledges” that the product is not a safe alternative.

Martin Linton (Lab, Battersea) called on the government to place a higher tax on super-strength lager, as a “major killer” of homeless people.

He said that despite the cans of super strength-lager carrying the message “enjoy responsibly”, the products contain four and a half units of alcohol, more than the recommended daily intake.

Linton told MPs:

“Would it not be more responsible of the department of health to ban half-litre cans and introduce a super-strength tax on beers and ciders over 6 per cent.”

Merron replied that the suggestion would be taken forward to the chancellor and that an individual should understand “whatever the strength of lager or alcohol,” how strong their drink is and what the health risks are.

Health secretary Andy Burnham also paid tribute to the NHS staff in Cumbria for their work managing the effects of the flooding.

During topical question the health secretary said emergency measures were in place involving Cockermouth community hospital being used as a GP practice.

He stated that any “further steps necessary will indeed be taken” to help those affected by the flooding.


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