In an unprecedented drive to improve health standards in the UK, the Government is to publish three new White Papers covering food safety and nutrition, public health and smoking.
The first White Paper, published this month, sets out proposals for a new Food Standards Agency, which will monitor the safety of food, “from plough to plate”. It will also advise on what food items members the public should eat to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
The Green Paper on public health, to be followed by a White Paper before summer, lays out the Government’s strategy for closing the gap in health standards between rich and poor. Latest figures indicate that residents in the Surrey stockbroker belt live on average six years longer than residents in inner city Manchester.
The White Paper on smoking will set out measures to reduce smoking and ban tobacco advertising.
Criticism has been aimed at Tessa Jowell, minister for public health, who has overseen many of these initiatives. Labour has been accused of promoting a “nanny state” approach, with Jowell cast in the role of Chief Nanny.
But Jowell was quick to defend Labour’s approach to healthcare. She said: “The `nanny state’ charge is a pointless epithet used by the Tories to attack what we do. It is mindless criticism which suggest there is no role for government to act protectively.”