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More Quit Programs Struggling

Kent and Shropshire worry about the impact of further budget cuts, but there is some good news from Barnsley

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Councillors in Kent are being warned that quit smoking targets will be missed if funding is restricted further. Shropshire council has provoked outrage as it announced a £4 million cut in public health spending. Barnsley continue to illustrate the advances that can be made when money is provided to fund sensible levels of support.

Kent County Council is being pressured to maintain current spending on its smoking cessation service or face missing the targets set by Government. In order to meet the “Smoke-free generation” target, Kent has to get 58,500 smokers off tobacco products by 2022.

Councillors have been told that if they manage to hit that number then 620 fewer people will contract lung cancer and 832 will avoid incidents of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2032.

They’ve been reminded that this also helps the poorest in society because if targets are met across the country, almost half a million smokers in England will be £2,000 better off every year – contributing to local economies.

Currently, Kent council is prioritising smoke-free areas outside school gates, prisons and healthcare centres as a dubious and cheap method of tobacco harm reduction.

Shropshire Council doesn’t appear to be keen on saving the lives of its 39,000 smokers either, as it announces £4 million is to be slashed from this year’s budgets. This is going to have a critical impact on the Help2Quit smoking cessation service. The service’s director, Dr. Kevin Lewis believes it means they are going to have to close all non-statutory services.

Last year, Help2Quit assisted 2,836 people and hit a 46% quit rate. The national target for smoking cessation services is 35%. Dr. Lewis said: “The loss of Help2Quit would have a significant adverse impact on population health, increasing the number of people living with disabling illness and adding to social care costs. It would also increase the risk of harm to babies born to mothers who smoke. Stop-smoking services are proven to offer the most effective form of smoking cessation support and are highly cost effective.”

A small positive to take from this is ASH UK commenting that the use of stop smoking services has been in decline as vaping has grown in popularity.

On the other hand, Barnsley councillors have voted to approve spending an additional £30,000 on retaining an expert to hold drop-in sessions and events in nearby villages, building on the success it has had in combatting smoking in the city’s worst-affected wards.

Sarah Sverdloff achieved a 67% success rate last year, in a report that says: “Overall in quarter one, 81 clients from the North East area set a quit date with Yorkshire Smoke Free Barnsley, either via a service provider, the core team or with Sarah. Four weeks in, 54 of these people had successfully quit. This gives a combined rate for the North East of 67 per cent, 12 per cent over target.”

Councilor Jim Andrews said: “The council is committed to achieving a smoke-free generation by 2025 and this includes reducing visible evidence of smoking. Evidence shows that if young people see smoking as part of everyday life they are more likely to smoke themselves so by making smoking invisible to children, we hope to vastly reduce the amount of children and young people picking up the habit.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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