A new partnership has agreed a set of principles to help Wolverhampton become 'smokefree'.

The Government has a target of the country becoming smokefree – having a smoking prevalence rate of 5% or less – by 2030 and recently announced a range of measures designed to help it reach that goal, including raising the purchase age of cigarettes on an annual basis and banning disposable vapes.

Smoking rates are higher in Wolverhampton than many parts of the country, with the Annual Population Survey estimating that 15.2% of adults in Wolverhampton smoke, compared to 13.4% in the West Midlands and 12.7% in England.

The Wolverhampton Tobacco, Smoking and Vaping Addiction Partnership, comprising representatives from the City of Wolverhampton Council, the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and other organisations, was established in November to bring together activities across the city which can help people quit smoking, and to prevent them from smoking in the first place.

And the Partnership has now formally endorsed a set of principles which will steer its work over the next 6 years. 

It has endorsed the Government's legislative measures to reduce smoking prevalence to 5% or less by 2030, and also supports the use of vapes that meet regulatory standards as an effective tool for adult smokers to stop smoking, with a view to also stop vaping in the future.

However, it does not recommend the use of vapes by school children and young people, and will work as a partnership to deter them from vaping and to restrict access to vapes to the under 18s.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the council's Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing and chair of Health and Wellbeing Together, said: "Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK – it causes 70% of all cases of lung cancer and increases the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

"Second hand smoke or passive smoking can also increase the risk to others; children and babies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second hand smoke and for women who smoke in pregnancy, harms caused to their babies include low birth weight, miscarriage, still births and sudden infant deaths.

"The Wolverhampton Tobacco, Smoking and Vaping Addiction Partnership is pleased to have agreed its position statement, endorsing the steps that are being taken to make our country 'smokefree' by 2030, and making it clear that, while vaping has a part to play in helping people to quit in the first place, it should not be seen as a long term solution as it is not totally risk free, and therefore people should be supported to stop vaping too.

"At the same time, the partnership is very clear that school children and young people should not be vaping. We know that there is significant concern in schools and communities about the rise in vaping among pupils and we welcome the Government's plan to ban the sale of disposable vapes which will deter under 18s from vaping. We also will support our Trading Standards team in their continuing efforts to crackdown on the sale of vapes to children."

The partnership is currently developing an action plan which will include coordinated campaigns to increase awareness of the harms of smoking and the support available to residents to quit, training for frontline health and wellbeing staff so they can provide stop smoking advice and support, and the development of a new Lifestyle Service to provide stop smoking support along with nicotine replacement therapies and vapes for residents who are trying to quit.

For more information about the work of the Wolverhampton Tobacco, Smoking and Vaping Addiction Partnership, please contact publichealth@wolverhampton.gov.uk.