What do we want? Smoking bans, health warnings and free condoms.
A nationwide poll suggests most people would like the government to take more action to improve public health. Far from snubbing what is sometimes called by the government's detractors the 'nanny state', the majority in a BBC online survey of over 9,000 people wanted to see regulation or legislation in a whole raft of areas including smoking, alcohol and food advertising.
The poll suggests that concern over public health problems such as obesity, binge drinking and secondary smoking is changing our attitudes to public health. Where do you stand on these questions?
- 81% wanted a ban on fast food and sweet adverts on television when children are watching.
- 73% wanted a ban on smoking in all public places
- 72% wanted crisps, chocolates and fizzy drinks machines banned from school premises.
- 65% wanted bottles of alcohol to carry a government health warning.
- 64% wanted condoms to be freely available on demand to all secondary school pupils.
- 54% wanted higher taxes on high-fat foods
- Only 33% said that patients whose medical condition could be linked to smoking, drinking or obesity should be given a lower priority for treatment.
As the general election approaches, the survey provides evidence that a strong lead on health could help a government reeling from difficulties with both its foreign and domestic policy.
Whether such a lead will be possible remains to be seen. The civil service job cuts announced in last month's Budget will hit the Department of Health hard. It will lose 1,400 jobs by October (down from more than 3,600 posts to 2,200). Half of the jobs will go completely through 'efficiency savings'; the rest will be transferred to other agencies. A review of staffing at these agencies and other bodies attached to the Department has also begun.
'The survey was not strictly scientific,' said Jim Pollard, editor of malehealth. 'It was conducted online so everybody who participated selected themselves and it's fair to guess that these were probably people with stronger views. But as a general guide to public opinion, it suggests that the time is right for action on public health. People understand that prevention is better than cure and, so far as the NHS is concerned, a lot, lot cheaper.'
Page created on April 5th, 2004
Page updated on December 1st, 2009