The Government has begun a wide-ranging public consultation on the nation’s
health, looking at how best to tackle issues such as obesity, smoking and
The process is set to lead to the framing of a White Paper on public health,
which will be published later this year.
Health secretary John Reid said he wanted contributions from as wide a field
as possible, including health professionals.
"We need a big debate about the relative roles of Government,
individuals and industries in tackling this vital challenge," he said.
"We need to find the right balance, rejecting both the nanny state and
the Pontius Pilate state that washes its hands of its citizens’ health,"
The Department of Health (DoH) is keen to examine what its role should be in
providing health and support, but also what role food retailers and advertisers
should be playing in offering and promoting healthier alternatives.
Peter Tiplady, chairman of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) public
health committee, said action to tackle the crisis in public health was
overdue, with a law banning smoking in workplaces and public areas a priority.
He also called for speedier access to genito-urinary clinics for
sexually-transmitted infections, and to giving children more access to exercise
and healthier foods.
Deborah Arnott, director of the anti-smoking charity Ash, said: "Such a
measure would not only safeguard the health of everyone against the hazards of
second-hand smoke, but has popular support. This one measure would also result
in fewer heart and cancer disease deaths and a better quality of life for
And Dame Yve Buckland, chairwoman of the Health Development Agency, said there
were roles for the health services and local and national government in making
it easier for people to make healthy choices.