Government introduce sugar levy on soft drink industry
We, alongside fellow members of the Obesity Health Alliance, welcome the Government introducing a sugar levy on the soft drink industry as part of the 2016 Budget. The levy, which will be brought in 2018 shows the Government’s commitment to protecting the heart health of future generations and will help stem the nation’s obesity crisis.
We have been at the centre of the last fifty years of progress in cardiovascular research and we’re proud of the impact our work has delivered. However, these achievements are not ours alone and we could not have done it without the input of the Government, other charitable funders and industry.
In the run up to the expected Government announcement on funding of medical research, over 1,500 people contacted their MP. We also joined others across the scientific sector to lobby government.
In the November 2015 spending review, the Chancellor announced that the science budget, which includes funding for medical research, will be protected by the Government in real terms until 2020. With adequate funding, medical research will continue to bring huge breakthroughs in how we prevent, diagnose and treat heart disease.
Thank you to everyone who helped show the Chancellor why medical research is so vital.
Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United Kingdom. Giving up is the best thing anyone can do for their heart health. That’s why we've been campaigning for years to reduce the number of people suffering and dying from tobacco related illnesses.
Standardised packs are intended to discourage children and young people from starting to smoke. They are essential given we know that two thirds of smokers start before the age of 18.
On 11 March 2015, MPs were given a final opportunity to vote for the introduction of standardised cigarette packaging. We’re thrilled they voted overwhelmingly (367 for and 113 against) to reject the glitzy designs and back a healthier future for the next generation.
Prior to this vote, hundreds of campaigners contacted their MP by email, on twitter and by phone asking them to support this vital policy. Every contact will have helped to counter the efforts of the tobacco industry, who as ever were fighting for the interests of profit over public health.
From May 2016 it will not be possible for tobacco companies to use package design as a marketing tool to make products more attractive.
Smoking in cars
The Government announced that smoking in cars with children present would be banned in England from 1 October 2015.
Smoking ban on TV and film - Wales
The Welsh Government was considering creating an exemption to the smoking ban in Wales for the TV and film industry. Allowing smoking on TV and film sets would have been a massive step backwards for public health.
Together with ASH Wales we urged decision makers to support keeping the smoking ban strong in Wales and they listened. In May the Health Minister announced that the plans had been dropped. Thank you to everyone who signed the petition or wrote to your Assembly Members.
Tobacco displays in shops and supermarkets
The UK Government announced that the ban on tobacco displays in shops and supermarkets would be going ahead from April 2015. We were really pleased with this news and the outcome couldn't have been achieved without the hard work of our campaigners writing to their MPs and raising awareness in their local newspapers. Thank you.
Cigarette vending machines
MPs passed a ban on cigarette vending machines and advertising cigarettes in shops and supermarkets which came into effect in October 2011. All our campaigners worked really hard to achieve this piece of legislation that will help to protect children from easy access to cigarettes and tobacco advertising.
Similar bans are also being implemented in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
We've been campaigning for the introduction of a new opt-out system of organ donation, and on 1 December 2015 we were thrilled to see this introduced in Wales. In November 2015, 230 people were on the Welsh transplant list, including 8 children, but just 34% of the population were registered as organ donors.
It’s hoped the new system will increase organ donation by 25%, saving the lives of more people in desperate need. We’ll continue to push for the same result across the rest of the UK.
Read more about our policy on organ donation.
When the UK Government launched their public consultation on colour coded food labels, nearly 1,000 of you took action and responded calling for colour-coded labels and consistency across all shelves. In July this year, the Government supported your calls and announced that they were backing a voluntary single labelling scheme that includes colour coding.
Every major supermarket pledged to support the scheme and will be introducing food labels with colour coding. This will make it easier and clearer to see exactly what's going into our baskets, a massive win for consumers.
Find out more about our food labelling policy.
Cardiac rehab in Scotland
BHF Scotland, along with our partner Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, worked with patients and health professionals to call for increased access to cardiac rehab for all heart patients who needed it. This call was embraced by the Scottish Government and appeared as a commitment in their Heart Disease and Stroke Action Plan.
New heart plan
In 2010 we petitioned for a new Government plan to tackle heart and circulatory disease in England. The old ten year plan for England (known as the National Service Framework) reached its tenth anniversary in 2010. We managed to gather over 160,000 signatures and presented the petition to Number 10.
We've now had confirmation from the Westminster Government that there will be a new heart plan put in place to tackle heart and circulatory disease.
The Government backed down on product placement proposals and confirmed that there will be a complete ban on product placement of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt on British TV. This will help to ensure that children are protected from junk food marketing and signals the importance that the Government places on children’s health.
Read more about our policy on junk food marketing.
We have worked alongside the Care and Support Alliance to persuade the Westminster Government to make improvements to its plans for delivering social care in England in the future. For example, people living in care homes will now have a care and support plan; people whose needs change over time will be considered for support; and where people are given money to buy support services themselves, it will need to be enough to meet their needs.
We are continuing to fight hard to ensure that everyone with cardiovascular disease will get the social care support they need under this Government and any future governments.