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Why isn't smoking a health priority?
AN ANGRY Worcester politician has hit out over a new county-wide health strategy - after it excluded smoking.
Worcestershire County Council has developed a new blueprint in conjunction with NHS bosses which aims to inform future spending and decision making.
Four areas have been identified as priorities - older people, mental health, obesity and alcohol abuse.
The blueprint has been attacked by Councillor Alan Amos, who represents Warndon, where he says in some areas up to 50 per cent of households have at least one smoker.
“The strategy talks about the threats to health, mentions drunks, talks about ways people can stay healthy, but I was staggered to see there is no mention at all of smoking,” he said.
“It kills 50 per cent of the people who do it, so why is it not part of this strategy? “
In my division (Warndon) in some areas the smoking rate is up to 50 per cent, and the reasons why people do it are often deep-rooted and complex.”
During his criticism, made during a full council meeting, he asked Tory Councillor Marcus Hart, the cabinet member for health, if he is “satisfied” the blueprint is good enough.
Coun Hart said: “You raise a very good point and while smoking cessation remains an important priority, the trajectory has been going in a downward trend over the last 20 years.
“While you cannot be complacent if you look at alcohol, mental health, older people and obesity, I am satisfied they have to be the main priorities.
“The more priorities you have, the less of a priority each one becomes.”
He said they decided to omit smoking “after a very long debate” and insisted County Hall still offers stop smoking advice and gets involved in campaigns.
That includes Stoptober, which runs until the end of this month and encourages people to finally kick the habit.
The Joint Health and Well-being Strategy was created after extensive consultation, and from that four spin-off plans have been drawn up for each priority.
The section on mental health will focus on improving information about suicide, and extra support for those bereaved or affected by it.
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