Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) has given its backing to a strategy aimed at reducing the number of smokers in every neighbourhood.
The Tobacco Free Lancashire and South Cumbria Strategy 2023-28 is an ambitious five-year plan to address smoking rates, and meet the NHS Long Term Plan target of less than five per cent smoking rates across the country by 2030.
The plans were endorsed at a recent ICB board meeting and now work will begin on bringing together local authorities, the wider NHS, service providers and communities to help achieve its goals.
The Government recently announced proposed legislation that will make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products – effectively raising the smoking age by one year each year until it applies to the whole population – and while the Tobacco Free Lancashire and South Cumbria Strategy was agreed before those targets were announced, it will complement those proposals.
Dr David Levy, medical director for the ICB, said: “Tobacco use is the largest driver of health inequalities in England, and is responsible for more than 7,500 premature deaths and 17,000 hospital admissions across Lancashire and South Cumbria each year.
“Smoking not only impacts on the health of our population but also has wider economic costs to our society, and we estimate that in our region we spend £79 million each year on treating smoking-related illness in the healthcare system, with a further £42 million spent on social care for current and former smokers by local authorities. There are also significant additional costs involved when you consider the number of fires caused by smoking and also the amount of litter it produces.
“This ambitious vision cannot be made possible by one organisation alone – it requires a sustained and comprehensive effort from the NHS as a whole and our service providers, the local authorities and communities themselves.”
The Tobacco Free Lancashire and South Cumbria Strategy sets out four key priorities for the next five years, which include working together collaboratively as a system, taking action to address health inequalities that often drive smoking, encouraging smoke free places and environments, and showing a united voice across the region with campaigns and lobbying for change.
People are three times more likely to quit smoking for good when they get the right support and professional help and one of the aims of the strategy is that people in every neighbourhood across Lancashire and South Cumbria will have access to key touchpoints within hospitals, primary care, pharmacies and elsewhere in the community which will include offering free access to products to help them in their quit attempt.
To find your local stop smoking service go to the NHS Better Health website.