Funding cuts mean stop smoking services can’t offer support

In collaboration with the Press Association

Local authorities have dramatically reduced budgets for Stop Smoking Services, according to a new report.

Figures from Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) show half of local authorities cut budgets for Stop Smoking Services in 2017. 

“We are deeply concerned that the erosion in support will hit disadvantaged smokers hardest.”George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK

And, according to the report, four in 10 local authorities aren’t providing support for smokers in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s senior policy manager, said he is deeply concerned by the lack of evidence-based support and urged the Government to do more. 

“National decisions to cut public health funding are having an impact on the ground,” he said. “A growing number of local areas no longer have treatment available for all smokers that meets the necessary standards.”

Stop Smoking Services provide the most successful way of quitting smoking, and are provided by the NHS

GPs from one in 10 local authorities aren’t prescribing varenicline, a medication proven to help smokers quit, according to the report. One in nine GPs have also stopped prescribing nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, to patients.

“We are deeply concerned that the erosion in support will hit disadvantaged smokers hardest,” said Butterworth. “We urge the Government at every level to ensure smokers have the support they need to stop smoking.”

Cancer Research UK and ASH said that tobacco companies should be held accountable for, and pay more to reduce, the harm they cause. 

ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “Thousands of people every year die from smoking with many more living with disabilities and disease. 

“Shrinking public health budgets make it tougher to provide smokers with quit services while tobacco companies pocket a billion in profit every year in the UK. The Government should place a levy on the industry to fund the support smokers need.”