Quit-smoking funding cut

| January 11, 2017

A campaign is underway in the UK aimed at trying to maintain funding for quit-smoking services.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) says it is running the Don’t Quit on Us campaign to amplify the voice of local government in sending a message that: ‘The Government must provide councils with the funds they need to run effective Stop Smoking Services, and the media activity to make sure smokers can find them’.

Philip Brownlie, public affairs manager with CRUK said that, over recent years, the UK had made steady progress in reducing smoking. ‘Landmark achievements like smoke-free pubs, bars and restaurants, plain, standardized cigarette packs and increasing taxes to make tobacco less affordable, have all helped encourage people to stop smoking,’ he said in a piece on LocalGov.co.uk. ‘But they have also stopped people, particularly children, from starting smoking.

‘To help those people already trapped in a tobacco addiction and to prevent cancers and ill health caused by smoking, support is needed to help them quit. That support exists. People are around three times more likely to give up for good when using a stop smoking service, compared to going it alone.’

Brownlie said that councils were on the frontline in the battle against tobacco, running or commissioning stop smoking services. ‘But local authorities are facing huge pressures on budgets as a result of repeated cuts to the Public Health Grant from central government,’ he said.

‘Despite a supposed “ring-fence” to protect these budgets, there have been cuts of £200 million to budgets in 2015, and further annual reductions of more than £100 million a year are expected between now and 2020.’

That’s why CRUK was running its campaign, Brownlie said.

More than 600 councilors from more than 100 councils, representing all political parties across England had already shown their support for the campaign.

‘The need for action has never been clearer,’ Brownlie said. ‘Our new report carried out by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) showed that, sadly, all over England, councils are struggling to maintain stop smoking services. Three in five councils … have been forced to cut their budgets for helping people stop smoking since last year – up from 39 percent in 2015/16.

‘For the first time ever, the majority of councils across England are having to reduce the amount of money available to help smokers to quit. No region across England has been spared.’

Brownlie said that tobacco control had consistently remained a high or above average priority across most regions in England. It had strong support among those in charge and virtually no opposition.

‘But, unfortunately, it appears that cuts to public health mean their ambitions won’t be realized,’ he said. ‘And that means the outlook for people wanting to use these services continues to worsen.’

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