New Government data shows urgent need for more investment in treatment for smokers



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16 August 2018

New Government data shows urgent need for more investment in treatment for smokers

Today NHS Digital [1] have published annually released data on the numbers of smokers supported to quit by local authority stop smoking services. Once again, numbers are down and five local authorities around the country no longer provide any service at all. The number of people setting a quit date has fallen from a peak of over 816,000 in 2011/12 to under 275,000 2017/18. The mid-point in 2014/15 was just over 450,500.

Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said:

Local authorities remain underfunded for stop smoking services and this can be seen in today’s figures. The continued downward trend in treatment for smokers is bad news for people with higher levels of addiction and for those from the poorest communities who often need more help to quit. 

The Government must find a solution or else risk health inequalities widening. We want to see the tobacco industry pay for the harm they cause. Government should place a levy on the industry to fund these services.

Last month Philip Morris International (the makers of Marlboro cigarettes) wrote to NHS organisations offering to fund quit services [2]. Both the Chief Executive of the NHS and the Public Health Minister [3] made it clear that staff should not accept this offer as it would breach the UK’s obligations under the World Health Organisation’s treaty on tobacco. However, what is clear is that the tobacco industry can afford to pay for the treatment smokers need.

It is estimated that the industry makes around £1 billion in profit in the UK alone each year. The Government should place a levy on the industry to fund quit support as is done in the USA [4] and France [5].

ENDS

Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash

ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

References 

[1] NHS Digital, Stop Smoking Service Data, 2018 https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-nhs-stop-smoking-services-in-england/april-2017-to-march-2018

[2] The Guardian, World’s biggest tobacco firm under fire over ‘disgraceful’ PR stunt, 19th July 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/19/worlds-biggest-tobacco-firm-under-fire-over-disgraceful-pr-stunt

[3] Hansard, Tobacco Control Plan Debate, 19 July 2018 https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-07-19/debates/AC4C0223-B31C-4AD8-A594-8CD963C96710/TobaccoControlPlan?highlight=morris#contribution-9D886DC8-D2D7-4624-AFD6-B7B9FD25F813

[4] USA Tobacco User Fee: https://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Manufacturing/ucm417012.htm

[5] France Tax on tobacco company revenue: https://blogs.bmj.com/tc/2017/03/02/france-breaking-new-ground-in-tobacco-control/