With record numbers out of work due to avoidable sickness, the NHS under unsustainable strain and population health in the UK behind other countries, the Prime Minister’s tobacco policy is a bold first step. Tobacco is a leading cause of avoidable disease and has a central role in driving health inequalities.
However, more is needed to make the UK a world leader on health, including action on obesity, addiction, gambling, alcohol and housing.
Chris Thomas, head of IPPR’s Commission on Health and Prosperity, said:
"The UK has lagged behind other countries on public health this decade. Many lives and livelihoods have been the price. So it’s entirely right that the Prime Minister has proposed such bold, evidence-led action on tobacco today - he should be congratulated on his ambition.
“A coherent public health strategy now demands similar ambition on obesity, gambling, alcohol and housing in the coming months. Without that, the path to prosperity looks ever fainter for the UK."
IPPR’s Commission on Health and Prosperity has shown:
Sickness explained more than half of employment exits between 2014 and 2019, and even more thereafter
The onset of sickness costs someone up to £2,200 of their annual earned income
Public health budget cuts are high, particularly in the most deprived parts of the country
Good population health could contribute to significant NHS savings over the next decade
To address this, IPPR has called for a new Health and Prosperity Act – legislating for a long-term health equivalent of net-zero, creating new institutions to drive evidence and accountability, an investment bank to support healthy business, and a health creation fund to help level up the country’s health.