General election: what do the main parties say about lung health?
With the general election fast approaching, the main political parties have published their manifestos. Jess from our policy team explains what they say about lung health.
We believe the next government must prioritise lung health. Thousands of you have already signed our open letter asking the next prime minister to take action for the nation’s lungs.
We want the new PM to back national plans to improve respiratory care, tackle air pollution and help people stop smoking.
We contacted the main parties to ask them to support these measures.
The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in Wales and Scotland publish separate manifestos, although they are similar to the parties’ UK manifestos. One difference is that Welsh Labour and Conservatives commit to a new clean air act in Wales.
The Conservative party
The Conservative manifesto commits to delivering NHS England's Long Term Plan, which includes a respiratory programme. While it doesn’t specifically mention lung health, the Conservatives say they will invest in preventing disease as well as curing it, and improve early diagnosis of all major health conditions.
They have pledged to consult at the earliest date for phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. They have also promised to bring back the Environment Bill, which was introduced just before the election. This would introduce new legal targets for air quality.
The last Conservative government planned to make England smoke free by 2030. This was not repeated in the manifesto. But if the Conservatives win the election, we will work with ministers to make sure this promise is kept.
The Labour party
Labour has pledged to introduce a new clean air act, conforming with World Health Organisation (WHO) limits on fine particles – the type of air pollution that gets deep into your lungs. It will also aim to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and to ensure air around schools is cleaner.
Although its manifesto doesn’t mention lungs, Labour says, if elected, it will implement a tobacco control plan and invest funding in stop smoking services. If there is a Labour government, we will make sure we keep the pressure on to make lung health a priority in its plans for the NHS.
The Liberal Democrats
The Lib Dems’ manifesto says that if elected they will pass a clean air act based on WHO guidelines. This law would introduce a legal right to unpolluted air and be enforced by a new air quality agency. The Lib Dems also pledge to extend ultra-low emission zones, which restrict the most polluting vehicles, to 10 more towns and cities across England.
They don’t reference lung health, but the Lib Dems have committed to reducing the numbers of people who smoke by introducing a charge on tobacco companies to help pay for stop smoking services.
In its manifesto, Plaid Cymru commits to implementing a Clean Air Act for Wales that would lead to national and regional plans to reduce air pollution. The law would create clean air zones in towns and cities, phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and give communities the right to place pollution-monitoring equipment outside schools and hospitals.
On health, Plaid Cymru says that if elected it would create an NHS community rehabilitation service. This would provide rehabilitation for people with long-term (chronic) conditions, such as pulmonary rehab for people with lung disease.
The Scottish National Party
In their manifesto, the SNP commits to funding loans to help people change to using ultra-low emission vehicles. It would also campaign for the UK government to bring forward plans to switch to electric vehicles to match the Scottish target of 2032.
While their manifesto doesn’t mention lung health or smoking, the SNP has previously said it’s committed to developing a national respiratory care action plan for Scotland and a new tobacco control strategy.
It’s up to you how you vote
Whoever forms the next government, we’ll need your help to make sure they prioritise lung health and stick to the promises made in their manifesto.
You can help by adding your name to our open letter to the next prime minister. We’ll send the letter to the prime minster after the election and use it to make the case for prioritising lung health.