Stop Smoking Services at threat as funding comes under pressure

Around forty per cent of local authorities in England are cutting budgets to stop smoking services according to a new Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) report published today (Wednesday) by Cancer Research UK*.

“Thousands of people will want to quit smoking this new year and free stop smoking services provided by local councils provide vital support to help them achieve that goal. These services are under threat from a lack of sustainable funding.” – George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK

In the second report of its kind, tobacco control experts from 126 local authorities across England have been asked about their stop smoking services, their budgets and how well their services were integrating since moving to local government in 2013.

The new 2014/15 report finds that in two out of five areas funding is being cut back. In addition half of all services are being reconfigured or recommissioned indicating a high level of change across the country.

The previous 2013/14 report reviewed the first full year of tobacco control moving to local authorities from PCTs. The results were generally positive but there were significant concerns flagged about future cuts to services.

In the Spending Review 2015, the Government announced cuts to local council public health budgets of 3.9 per cent a year over the next five years. This is in addition to the £200 million extra in year cuts announced at the Budget 2015.

Stop Smoking Services are not mandatory services that councils must provide so there are fears they will be targeted and hit hard by cuts. This would then make it difficult for smokers to get the support they need to help them break their addiction.

Full article by Cancer Research UK 13 January 2016