Examination of witness

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:09 am ar 30 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Paul Farmer:

Age UK fully supports the proposed legislation, and we have been working alongside the Richmond Group of Charities to highlight the significant health benefits of phasing out smoking, which will help individuals and have a wider impact on society. It will have particular benefits for the NHS, which as we know faces significant challenges at the moment.

Our job at Age UK is to think about not just the health and wellbeing of older people as they are now—I will come to your second question in a moment—but issues affecting future generations of older people. This is quite a rare opportunity for us to have a significant impact on those future generations for reasons we will look at later.

It is worth noting, however, that this Bill is heavily supported by older people. Polling shows that 69% of over-65s support it. Why is that? That goes to your second question. We know from older people and the work we are currently doing that health and wellbeing in later life is pretty much the top priority for older people. Age UK has recently published our blueprint for older people for the next few years, as we enter an election year. It is very clear from the work we have done with older people that health and wellbeing is right at the heart of what is most important for people.

Of course, that is logical: the ability to feel well, remain active and maintain our independence is a major determinant of the quality of life that we aspire to in later life. We also know that there is a huge gulf in life expectancy and life experiences between those who have the opportunity to age well and those who do not. I will not go into the points your earlier witnesses made about the importance of healthy life expectancy in detail, but that is right at the heart of older people’s considerations. It is important that we do something about the fact that healthy life expectancy for those who are most disadvantaged is quite so stark.

How does that affect smoking? As you know, smoking is a leading cause of death and disability. It is responsible for half the difference in healthy life expectancy between the most and the least affluent communities. People living in the areas with the lowest healthy life expectancy are 1.7 times more likely to smoke than those living in the highest healthy life expectancy areas. These are fundamental reasons why the intervention of this legislation will make a difference.