Trafford Labour politicians have backed a leading cancer research charity’s call for central government to levy a charge on the tobacco industry.

The introduction of a SmokeFree Fund would mean penalising the cigarette and tobacco producers by forcing them to pay a financial penalty as a direct result of the serious health problems their products cause.

Leading the charge on reducing the amount of people who are currently addicted to smoking is Cancer Research UK, however, recent data collated by the organisation does reveal the government is almost a decade behind achieving its target for England to be smoke free by 2030.

If implemented, the money could be used to tackle health inequalities and support those desperately trying to quit the habit while helping to fund parts of the health sector that is left struggling to deal with the debilitating impact smoking has had on millions of lives.

Cllr Shirley Procter, who represents Davyhulme East Ward, tabled a motion during Wednesday’s Full Council meeting calling for the government to adequately resource local authorities so they can fulfil their public health duties.

She said: “Tobacco is the biggest cause of cancer and premature death in the UK, which costs the NHS £2.4 billion a year. The diseases it causes are preventable, and cost society £17b, through lost wages, lost production, lost services, sickness absence to name but a few.

“More than this, though, is the cost to families – loss of income, distress and pain seeing your loved one going through surgery and chemotherapy, in the hope that it will eradicate the cancer.

“My husband and I have both seen the impact of cancer and its treatment – chemotherapy and surgery on our families; the distress of each person going through the treatment, and the stress it causes their close family and friends.

“It’s time the tobacco industry paid for the harm it does. We’ve known since the 1970s that smoking is harmful, yet the tobacco companies continue to profit from this. I fully support Cancer Research UK’s call for a Smokefree Fund levied on all tobacco organisations.”

Cllr Joanne Harding, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Strategic Partnerships, echoed her colleagues concerns and argued smoking rates are much higher among low-income groups and that tobacco addiction can exacerbate and lock people into poverty.

Cllr Harding added: “The old days of hazy smoked-filled pubs and cigarette-scented restaurants, nightclubs, workplaces including vehicles are now, thankfully, a thing of the past.

“When the then Labour Government introduced the smoking ban in 2007, it was, and has been one of the biggest public health interventions this country has ever seen.

“However, inequality in smoking rates maintains the disproportionate burden of death and disease placed on people from low socio-economic groups and perpetuates health inequalities.”

Cllr Harding continued: “A levy on the industry, with the money raised used to fund measures to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking, is supported by 71 pc of the public.

“Meanwhile, high smoking rates are linked to indicators of disadvantage including unemployment, low educational attainment, and mental health conditions, further compounding wider inequalities.”

Cllr Harding also pointed out that the evidence is clear and smoking prevalence only continues to decline when tobacco-controlled policies continue to be updated, invigorated, and improved.

“We cannot and must not keep shifting responsibility for delivery over to localities, while at the same time demanding more from declining levels of public health funding.”

Trafford Council expressed its support for Cancer Research UK’s call for central government to back their campaign for a SmokeFree Fund in a bid to do more to reach its SmokeFree target by 2030.