The government has appointed a smoking 'czar' to co-ordinate anti-smoking policies throughout the NHS.

Nikki Wade has been named development manager of the Alliances Network and will coordinate activities around the country by the tobacco-control alliances.

Ms Wade, 29, was formerly a health promotion specialist at Cambridgeshire health authority for five years. She has also worked on secondment to pressure group Action on Smoking and Health.

Her brief will be to ensure that all the tobacco-control alliances - local groups set up by the Department of Health to promote smoking cessation - work closely together and share best practice.

'I will be travelling around the country, meeting representatives from the alliances and finding out what has worked well and what hasn't worked, 'Ms Wade said.

'The role of the alliances is to reduce the prevalence of smoking, but also to start initiatives that will discourage young people from starting in the first place.'

Many of the groups began as voluntary organisations but have now been given DoH funding.

Some are more proactive than others, with those such as SmokeFree Birmingham setting up a range of initiatives to discourage young people from taking up smoking.

Another area Ms Wade will be addressing is the policy for smoking in public places. The DoH plans to clarify the health and safety guidance which has been open to various interpretations until now.

She will also co-ordinate policies with other government initiatives such as the Surestart scheme for young parents, and target vulnerable groups such as young people and single mothers.