Laura Sharman 13 January 2016

Report shows extent councils are scaling back on stop smoking schemes

Report shows extent councils are scaling back on stop smoking schemes image

Around 40% of councils have cut their stop smoking services following reductions in public heath budgets, a new report has revealed.

The Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) report, published by Cancer Research UK, found funding for services in two out of five areas are being cut back, with half of all services being reconfigured or recommissioned.

However, the study did find that tobacco control experts did value the benefit of forming relationships with local authorities, with the majority (59%) saying they were positive about the future of tobacco control in local government.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy for ASH and one of the report authors, said: 'Our research shows that most local councils take their responsibility to reduce smoking very seriously. But, they are facing enormous funding pressures.

'The services we have to support smokers to quit are world class but they are being eroded. The wider role that council's play in tackling smoking - such as enforcing existing laws on smoking and selling tobacco - is also under threat.

'We need national action now to ensure that local authorities have the tools and the funding to do everything they can to reduce smoking rates.'

Responding to the report, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that the number of smokers has fallen in recent years, so those that still smoke will be harder to help stop.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA's community wellbeing spokesperson, said: 'This means councils are re-evaluating what they do on tobacco control and how to be more effective.

'Councils remain committed to helping smokers quit, however they face significant cuts to public health budgets this year, and spending large volumes of money on a service people are not using will fast undermine the cost-effectiveness of providing it.'

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