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#SmokefreeUK: Millions of lives are in their hands
Smoking is still the biggest cause of cancer and preventable death in the UK. We’ve made progress, but the UK Government must do more to make the UK smokefree. It’s time we lose the tobacco and gain a better future.
The UK needs smokefree action to help make sure young people don’t start smoking, and smokefree funding to help people quit.
To make the UK smokefree, the UK Government must:
Stop the start. Create measures to prevent young people from smoking.
Start the stop. Fund public health campaigns and stop smoking services to help people quit smoking
Deadline to request: Friday 2 September 2022
Time to act: 20 – 30 minute meeting plus time to prepare
Skills: Relationship building, influencing, storytelling
Your current campaign action
In October, join us in highlighting Stoptober – a month-long period of support and encouragement to quit smoking.
Often, one of the main obstacles to quitting smoking is confidence. Help us to show that a smokefree life is within reach by encouraging people who smoke to quit, to have a plan and stick to it.
Ways to get involved
Give a shout-out to anyone thinking about stopping smoking this Stoptober - share NHS Quit Smoking support on social media.
Get your MP involved too. Let them know about Stoptober and how they can support constituents to quit.
If you used to smoke, or you're trying to quit, join our 30,000 e-campaigners in sharing what being smokefree means to you
Deadline: 31 October | Time To Act: 15-20 minutes | Skills: Social media, relationship building, written communications
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Britain is home to one of the oldest governments in the world - the Palace of Westminster has been a centre of power for over 900 years. Visit the UK Parliament website and you'll learn that nobody set out to create Parliament. It developed naturally out of the daily political needs of the English King and his government.
In the 21st century, how politics defines our lives depends on where we live. Find out more about politics in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below.
In Northern Ireland over 9,520 people are diagnosed with cancer each year – more than 26 people every day. Cancer survival is improving, with 56% of patients surviving for five years or more, however survival in Northern Ireland still lags behind other comparable countries around the world.
Health is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. This means decisions about health policy are made by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly. That is why we work closely alongside the Executive, Assembly, Department of Health, Health and Social Care (HSC) Board, Public Health Agency (PHA) and Health and Social Care Trusts to ensure cancer remains a priority in Northern Ireland.
Our Campaigns Ambassadors in Northern Ireland are a critical part of that effort as they influence MLAs and other government stakeholders to support policies that help beat cancer.
Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer. While notable progress has been made in improving survival rates, the incidence of cancer continues to grow. There are also major and persistent health inequalities in Scotland, with people from less well-off communities, for example, typically presenting later for treatment and dying earlier.
Health is a devolved matter in Scotland. This means decisions about health policy are made by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. That is why we work closely alongside the Scottish Government and the 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), advising on cancer and research issues and campaigning for prevention measures and early detection services.
Our Campaigns Ambassadors in Scotland are a critical part of that effort as they influence MSPs and other government stakeholders to support policies that help beat cancer.
Every year around 19,500 people in Wales are diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to research, cancer survival in Wales is improving, with 58.5% of people surviving their cancer for five years or more. Yet there is still more to be done to accelerate progress so that 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034.
We work with MSs within the Senedd to keep cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care among Wales’ top public policy priorities.
Our Campaigns Ambassadors in Wales are a critical part of that effort as they influence MSs to support policies that help beat cancer. That’s why we want to involve you in our Senedd Campaigns, to make sure cancer is a top priority for the Welsh Government.
Welsh Government’s Upcoming plans:
A National Cancer Plan: Currently the Welsh Government are drafting a plan to improve cancer services in Wales. This is something we have been calling for, due to Wales being the only nation without a Cancer strategy. Cancer Research UK wants to ensure the plan addresses the big issues Wales experiences with waiting times, early diagnosis, and access to the best and most effective treatments. We believe this plan needs to be ambitious and properly funded to address staff shortages and transform cancer services for the future. With help from our ambassadors, we can scrutinise the plan to ensure it achieves its purpose, improving cancer services for all in Wales.
Price promotions on junk foods: Prevention plays a significant part of improving cancer diagnosis rates. As such, we are pleased to see the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce price promotions on foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. This is due to be a big part of Welsh Government’s new obesity plans, something we are very supportive of. We know there may be concerns around the impact of these proposed changes. However, evidence, shows that price promotions actually lead to shoppers spending more than they intended to and increasing their consumption of foods high in fat, salt and sugar. We are aware of potential opposition to this legislation within the Senedd, and it is with our Ambassadors' help we can ensure this legislation passes and improves obesity rates in Wales.
Wales becoming smokefree: We welcome plans for Wales to become ‘smokefree’ by 2030 (i.e., less than 5% of people smoking), and will be working within the Senedd and in collaboration with our ambassadors to ensure plans are delivered to make it a reality.
Cancer Research UK connects with Ministers, Parliamentarians and Civil Servants in Westminster, as well as local decision makers across England to support them to address cancer in their communities.
Our policy experts, researchers and clinicians provide expert evidence to parliamentary committees, All Party Parliamentary Groups and public inquiries. They also help us frame responses to key government departments and other relevant public consultations.
We campaign nationally on policy issues to beat cancer through the NHS in England, from screening to early diagnosis and access to treatments. Through local government, we campaign to support the implementation of our national priorities on prevention, in particular on stop smoking services.
How we campaign to beat cancer
Our campaigning on tobacco
Around 4 in 10 cancers are preventable - tobacco is still the biggest cause of cancer and the biggest cause of all premature death in the UK. Smoking causes around 54,300 cancer cases a year in the UK – that’s around 150 cases of cancer every day.
Through campaigning, we’ve made progress.
In 2006, smokefree workplaces, commonly referred to as 'the smoking ban', became law.
In 2009, laws were passed to remove vending machines and tobacco displays.
And in March 2015, MPs voted in favour of plain, standard cigarette packs.
We’ve made progress, and these were huge victories for public health but the UK Government must do more to make the UK smokefree. Now, you can be part of our next tobacco campaign victory
Our campaigning on reducing obesity
The more junk food ads young people see, the more they eat. The big businesses behind junk food will tell you this won't work, ads don't make that much difference to children's diets. But if that's the case, why do they spend so much money on them?
Around six ten-year-olds, in an average classroom of 30, are obese. For kids today, and for future generations, we need to act now. The UK Government promised to ban junk food adverts on TV before 9pm and online, something Cancer Research UK campaigners had been asking for since 2016 and in the Health and Care Act 2022, this became law.
Our campaigning on early diagnosis
Cancer that’s diagnosed at an early stage, when it isn’t too large and hasn’t spread, is more likely to be treated successfully. For many common cancers survival triples when diagnosed at an early stage. That's why we're working to help people get their cancer diagnosis as early as possible.
Since 2017, our campaigners have stood Shoulder to Shoulder and told governments that Cancer Won't Wait. On the day our NHS turned 70, we handed in a letter to Number 10 with 174 MPs and Peers signatures pledging their support for extra funding to recruit and train more NHS staff. Shortly afterwards, then Prime Minister Theresa May committed to diagnosing 3 in 4 cancers early by 2028.
And cancer didn’t stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so neither did our cancer campaigners. Nearly 4,000 of you acted to secure safe spaces for cancer services by writing to your politicians.
Change takes time, and every little action adds up to the life-saving policy change we need to see to save more lives.
Our campaigning in elections
Every one of the 650 MPs elected to Parliament has the opportunity to make real change happen on the issues that affect cancer patients in the UK. They are given a platform from which they can support and deliver on measures that we know from our research will save more lives. That’s why it’s important that even before an election is held, we make sure the candidates standing for a seat in the next Parliament are fully engaged with the issues around cancer.
Through campaigning, we can provide important information about what we think are the top priorities for beating cancer, increasing awareness of the critical role the candidates could play if they become an MP, and helping to make our priorities their priorities.
How does Cancer Research UK campaign? We work with all our supporters, political representatives and policymakers to prioritise cancer over a range of areas including prevention, early diagnosis and treatments. Find out more about CRUK’s policy areas and messages.
How can I learn more about what is going on locally? Get to know your local cancer stats. Additionally, it helps to know what Cancer Research UK is doing in your area. Find out if there is a fundraising group, shop, Cancer Awareness Roadshow or Race for Life near you.
How can I more meaningful conversations with people about cancer? As a representative of Cancer Research UK, family, friends and the public might ask you questions about cancer. Learn more about how to have conversations about cancer via our free online course.
Your personal reflection record is a helpful guide and place for you to log your objective, learnings, skills and achievements from your time volunteering.
Whether you've been campaigning with us for 10 years or 10 minutes, this pack was designed for you. Add to your skills builder pack directly from your device or print for a paper copy - it's up to you!
Researching policies and your political representatives is a key part of campaigning. Learn how to use online resources to personalise your asks and familiarise yourself with current affairs.
Many Campaigns Ambassadors use social media to build support for our campaigns and publicise their actions. Access our guide to learn how to appeal to your online networks.
Meeting an MP
Campaigns Ambassadors frequently meet in person with their MPs to discuss the key points of our campaigns. Access our top tips guide to build confidence and prepare for your next meeting.
Petitions are one of the many tools we use to let government know how the public feels about a certain issue. Learn more about to collect petition signatures and how to build support for our cause.