Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

No excuses, no nannying

Andrew Lansley speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum in Nottingham (2007). Photo by Simon Scarpa.

Andrew Lansley speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum in Nottingham (2007). Photo by Simon Scarpa.

The speech by Andrew Lansley that was trailed over the weekend is now available on the Conservative Party website. The Shadow Secretary of State argues that geotagging spending on healthcare to areas of deprivation isn’t sufficient to tackle health inequalities.

He suggests that a Conservative government would no longer seek to “interfere in the day-to-day management of the NHS”, but that they would separate public health budgets from the NHS service budgets. He also thinks that local Directors of Public Health should sit outside of the PCTs.

There are also other structural changes Mr Lansley is suggesting, which I’ll not touch on.

He then puts flesh on the bones of Conservative thinking about individual social responsibility, which he argues must become a cornerstone of public health policy. He says:

If we are realistic about the impact of social norms and peer influence in affecting behaviour, we must also realise that we should not be ‘nannying’ people. Providing information and example is empowering, lecturing people is not. Supportive rôle models and positive social norms is motivating and empowering, not a drag.

But he says things are somewhat different when it comes to children:

If we change the environment for children – better school food, more school sport, more community sport, more information and awareness of the risks associated with poor diet, smoking, drugs and unprotected and early sex – do we automatically change behaviour?

No. I think it is clear that changing these factors will not be enough. I am convinced that we have to empower young people as well as adults.

Mr Lansley goes on to talk about how he believes a Conservative government will do this.

For teenagers, I believe we also have to think specifically how we can deploy leadership, rôle models and social marketing approaches, not just to warn teenagers about the harm they can do through risky behaviour, but the positive empowerment they can achieve by choosing healthy living.

Other (relevant to us) proposals he makes include:

  • A responsible drinking campaign matched by community action projects to address drug abuse, STIs and alcohol abuse, using a proportion of drinks industry advertising budgets and supported by the Government.
  • Community Alcohol Partnerships, based on the successful example from St. Neots in Cambridgeshire.
  • Clear labelling on alcoholic drinks and a push for the standardisation of labelling where necessary at a European level.
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