White Paper aims to reduce the number of people who smoke

Health Secretary John Reid today published Choosing Health – the Government’s White Paper on improving public health in England.

Measures include:

  • Reducing the numbers of people who smoke, because it leads to heart disease, str okes, cancer and many other fatal diseases; because many people felt this was an ar ea in which they needed more support in addressing the problem; because many people were concerned about the affects of secondhand smoke; and because many parents were concerned about their children taking up smoking.

  • Reducing obesity and improving diet and nutrition, because the rapid increase in child and adult obesity over the past decade is storing up very serious health problems for the future if it is not addr essed effectively now. Effective action on diet and exer cise now will help to tackle heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a range of factors critical to our health.

  • Increasing exercise, because it reduces the risk of major chronic diseases and premature death. Over a third of people are not active enough to benefit their health, and rates of walking and cycling have fallen over the last 25 years.

  • Encouraging and supporting sensible drinking, because alcohol misuse is associated with deaths from stroke, cancer, liver disease, injury and suicide; because it places a bur den on the NHS, particularly on Accident and Emergency departments; and because it is r elated to absenteeism, domestic violence and violent crime.

  • Improving sexual health, because risktaking sexual behaviour is increasing across the population; because diagnoses of HIV, Chlamydia, genital warts and Syphilis have increased in recent years; because sexually transmitted infections can lead to cancer, infertility and death; and because delay in diagnoses and treatment can lead to more people being infected.

  • Improving mental health, because mental wellbeing is crucial to good physical health and making healthy choices; because stress is the commonest reported cause of sickness absence and a major cause of incapacity; and because mental illhealth can lead to suicide.

The document aims to make it easier for people to change their lifestyle so they eat more healthily, exercise more and smoke less. It also sets out moves to improve sexual health, encourage sensible drinking and improve mental well-being.

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