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We’re working with NiQuitin to make air pollution a thing of the past

Harriet from our policy team talks about our new partnership with NiQuitin* and our plans to fight for clean air and healthy lungs.

This year we’re joining forces with NiQuitin to fight for the nation’s lungs. Together we will be raising awareness of the damaging ways air pollution affects our lungs and encouraging people to take action to change this.

Like smoking, air pollution can cause new lung conditions and worsen existing ones. A study last year found that if you live in London it’s similar to smoking three cigarettes a week. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. The solutions are available to tackle this problem, and we’re joining forces to make them happen.

We had a glimpse of what clean air looks like

As the pandemic spread across the UK and travel became restricted, levels of air pollution plummeted in many of our towns and cities. One in six people living with a lung condition told us they’d seen improvements to their conditions. We had a glimpse of what clean air could look and feel like. It’s time now to make that a reality.

Air pollution is an invisible killer that cuts people’s lives short. It can stunt the growth of children’s lungs which can reduce their resilience to future health challenges. There is no safe amount for anyone to breathe in, yet levels across the UK are very high in many places. These toxic levels of pollution are expected to continue for years to come, so right now, it’s critical that policy makers protect those who are most at risk.

Air pollution is unfair and unjust

That’s why we are currently working on a new report that examines the unfair and unjust ways air pollution is affecting people across the UK. It looks at the communities we know are most at risk from the harmful effects of toxic air - people living with lung conditions, the poorest families, older people and children. Many of these communities are the same people that have been most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s very concerning that we’ve already seen traffic return close to pre-pandemic levels despite high numbers of people still working at home or restricting their travel. Many people still feel very worried about travelling on public transport, so in fact we could see pollution levels rocket even further in 2021.

We need urgent action now to protect our lungs

We’ve seen lots of great announcements recently about the phase out of the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030 and more ambitious climate change commitments. However, none of these targets will be possible if we don’t take action now to reduce the number of polluting cars on our roads and support people to choose cleaner travel options. It will take time for these harmful emissions to lower, so in that time we must also protect those most at risk.

Last year over 9,400 people told the government to take more action on toxic air, however we need our voices to be louder so that they can’t be ignored - will you sign up today and join us?

*NiQuitin products contain nicotine. Stop smoking aids. Requires willpower. Always read the leaflet.

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18 December 2020