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12 Steps to better Public Health - A Manifesto

Smoking ban in cars, Chlamydia screenings for university freshers and eliminating transfats from food: All political parties called to introduce robust public health policies to improve the nation's health

With the general election approaching, the Faculty of Public Health, which represents 3,000 leading public health specialists in the UK and around the world, and the Royal Society for Public Health, representing over 6,000 members from a wide range of health-related professions, have published a package of 12 practical recommendations that, if adopted by the next government, will improve the UK’s health and well-being for the new decade.

The joint public health manifesto calls for:

  1. A minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol sold
  2. No junk food advertising in pre-watershed television
  3. Ban smoking in cars with children
  4. Chlamydia screening for university and college freshers
  5. 20 mph limit in built up areas
  6. A dedicated school nurse for every secondary school
  7. 25% increase in cycle lanes and cycle racks by 2015
  8. Compulsory and standardised front-of-pack labelling for all pre-packaged food
  9. Olympic legacy to include commitment to expand and upgrade school sports facilities and playing fields across the UK
  10. Introduce presumed consent for organ donation
  11. Free school meals for all children under 16
  12. Stop the use of transfats

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, says:

“Each of these sensible, practical steps could have a significant impact on people’s health. Together they amount to a package of measures that could save many lives and relieve pressure on the NHS. Preventing ill-health with firm policies such as the smoking ban in cars has got to be right up there at the top of the next government's agenda. Any party that claims to be the party of the NHS has to commit to promoting and protecting health as well as healthcare - all the more so with such lean times ahead.”

Professor Richard Parish, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, says:

“We are facing unprecedented challenges to public health ranging from climate change to a catastrophic diet and accidents to alcohol abuse. The time to act is now, not wait until it is too late to do anything meaningful. Many of the actions needed require political will, rather than resources. This manifesto represents a start upon which the next Government can build a healthier and more prosperous future"

Research by The California Environmental Protection Agency shows that being exposed to cigarette smoke particles in a closed car is equivalent to the exposure of fighting a California wildfire for over four to eight hours1. 77% of respondents to a 2008 YouGov poll in England supported a smoking ban in cars with children2.

Alcohol-related harm and obesity rates in Britain are nearing epidemic proportions. In England, alcohol-related hospital admissions went up by 69% between 2002 and 2007. The cost of drinking to the NHS England is estimated to be £2.7 billion3. In Scotland, the death rates are double compared to the UK as a whole and the country has the highest death rate due to alcoholic liver disease in Western Europe4.

Almost one in four adults in England were classed as obese in 2007, as were 17% of boys aged two to fifteen and 16% of girls5.

Contact details:

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, President of the Faculty of Public Health, 07957 642 009.

Professor Richard Parish, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, 0771 3255972.

Faculty of Public Health Press Office: Suvi Kingsley, 07909 780022 /

References

  1. California Environmental Protection Agency: Air Resources Board Secondhand smoke in cars factsheet, http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/ets/documents/ets_cars.pdf
  2. Beyond Smoking Kills: Protecting children, reducing inequalities. London, ASH, 2008
  3. Statistics on alcohol England, 2009 report, NHS Information Centre
  4. Institute of Alcohol Studies, www.ias.org.uk
  5. A 9% increase from 1993 levels; Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet, February 2009, NHS Information Centre

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. Transfats are chemically altered vegetable oils with no known nutritional benefits, used for deep-frying fast foods and increasing shelf-life for pastries, cakes and biscuits. They raise ‘bad' cholesterol levels and are bad for heart health. Denmark has banned the use of transfats through legislation, as has Switzerland and California in the United States from 1 January 2010.
    • Britain's alcohol problem might be even worse than previously thought, with the nation consuming 225 million litres more alcohol per year than reported in drink surveys. In December 2009, a Liverpool John Moores University study for Alcohol Concern compared data from drink surveys and alcohol sales and found that drink surveys dramatically underestimate the amount people really drink.
    • Levels of secondhand smoke in cars can be extremely high because of the restricted area in which the smoke is circulated. According to a major review by the Government-appointed Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) second-hand smoke in general is a cause of respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear infections and asthma attacks in children.
  2. Faculty of Public Health represents 3,000 of leading public health specialists in the UK and around the world. The Faculty aims to improve the public's health through advocacy and campaign work, education and standard-setting. www.fph.org.uk
  3. Royal Society for Public Health represents over 6,000 members from a wide range of occupational groups. It is an independent, multi-disciplinary organisation, dedicated to the promotion and protection of collective human health and well-being, through advocacy, mediation, empowerment, knowledge and practice. www.rsph.org.uk
  4. Download the manifesto in PDF format

 

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Written: 18/01/2010 , last modified: 16/08/2010

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