The white paper bears a striking resemblance to a late draft published in HSJ last month.

It sets a 'bold target' of preventing at least 300,000 deaths by 2010 and also signals a radical shake-up of public health infrastructure, backed by a£96m development fund.

Saving Lives sets tougher targets than outlined in the Our Healthier Nation green paper, and extends them to people aged 75 rather than 65.

It aims to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke by 40 per cent, saving 200,000 lives a year by 2010, and cut cancer deaths by 20 per cent, saving 100,000 lives.

A further 12,000 deaths from accidents and 4,000 from suicide are thought to be preventable.

In addition, the government expects to take tougher action to force water companies to introduce fluoridation. Individuals will be equipped to look after their own health better through a 'healthy citizenship' initiative.