Rebecca Evans Minister for Social Services and Public Health
I have introduced the Public Health (Wales) Bill (“the Bill”) and its Explanatory Memorandum into the Assembly today, 7 November 2016.
The Bill affirms the Welsh Government’s commitment to taking a lead in public health and using legislation as a way of further improving and protecting the health of people in Wales. It forms part of a comprehensive public health agenda alongside services, policies, programmes and campaigns, as well as work across government to address the causes of ill health.
The Bill seeks to make a positive and practical difference in a number of specific areas, for the benefit of particular groups as well as whole communities. It contains the original proposals considered by the previous Assembly but without the provisions restricting the use of nicotine inhaling devices in some public places. The Bill also benefits from already having received rigorous scrutiny and includes the changes which were made to improve it during the original amending stages.
Tobacco and nicotine products
The Bill re-states existing restrictions on smoking in enclosed and substantially enclosed public and work places, and extends them to cover school grounds, hospital grounds and public playgrounds. It also allows for further settings to be made smoke-free in the future in certain circumstances.
The Bill will also create a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products, which will help enforcement agencies to uphold restrictions on their sale and prevent access by children and young people. It will also create an offence of knowingly handing over tobacco or nicotine products to under 18s to further protect children from harm.
The Bill creates a mandatory licensing system for practitioners who carry out special procedures – namely acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis and tattooing. This will help to protect people who choose to have these procedures from the harm that can occur if they are poorly carried out.
The Bill will prohibit the intimate body piercing of children under the age of 16, including tongue piercings. This important step aims to further protect children and young people from potential harm and being placed in vulnerable situations.
Health impact assessments
Following a change made during the previous scrutiny process, the Bill will require Welsh Ministers to make regulations about the use of health impact assessments by public bodies in certain circumstances. This will help ensure that before key decisions are made, they are informed by a full consideration of the potential effects on physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The Bill makes important changes to the way in which pharmaceutical services are planned, through the use of pharmaceutical needs assessments. These changes will help ensure the system better meets the broader public health needs of communities.
Provision of toilets
The Bill places a duty on local authorities to prepare and publish local toilets strategies for their areas. This aims to improve planning of provision and access to toilets available for use by the public, and will benefit whole communities as well as groups such as older people.
I will make an oral statement on the Bill to the Assembly tomorrow, 8 November 2016.
Details of the Bill are available on the National Assembly for Wales website – www.assembly.wales