Responding to a report by Cancer Research UK and ASH on reductions to public health funding affecting stop smoking services provided by councils, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Councils, which are responsible for public health, have had a significant impact on helping people quit smoking through a range of evidence-based, best practice programmes.
“However, with one in five still smoking, there is a lot more to be done. Councils’ efforts to continue to help people quit smoking are being hindered by the Government’s reductions to their public health budget, which councils use to fund stop smoking services.
“We have long argued that this is a short-term approach which will only increase acute pressures for NHS services further down the line.
“We urge ASH and Cancer Research UK to join our call for reductions in councils’ public health budgets to be reversed so stop smoking services can be offered to all those who need them, and to avoid greater pressure from being placed on already overstretched local services.
“In the meantime, councils remain committed to helping people quit smoking and are re-evaluating what they do on tobacco control and how to be more effective, for example, reaching out to smokers with the greatest need such as routine and manual workers, pregnant smokers and those with mental illness.
“Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and local government stands ready to work with central government to tackle this.”