This report presents the findings from an online survey of tobacco control leads in local authorities in England. Findings include that many opportunities exist for local authority commissioners of tobacco control and stop smoking services to build on their past successes and improve their local offer. These include joint working with colleagues in other local authority services, partnering with the NHS (now newly engaged in smoking cessation thanks to the Long Term Plan), and pursuing population approaches within Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Integrated Care Systems.
The survey found that:
- In 2019, 69% of surveyed local authorities in England offered a specialist stop smoking service to local smokers and 59% offered a service to all smokers, compared to 56% of local authorities offering a universal specialist stop smoking service in 2018.
- Among the local authorities that still had a budget for stop smoking services, 35% had cut this budget between 2018/19 and 2019/20. This was the fifth successive year in which more than a third of local authorities had cut their stop smoking service budgets.
- Pressure on budgets remains by far the biggest threat to stop smoking services and wider tobacco control work in local authorities in England. Almost three quarters (74%) of respondents said pressure on budgets was a threat to local tobacco control, including ongoing cuts to local authority budgets, further cuts to the public health grant and uncertainty about the future of the grant after March 2021.
The report also includes recommendations for the Government, NHS and local authorities to improve tobacco control and stop smoking services. Responses were received for 127 local authorities, 84% of the 151 local authorities in England with responsibility for public health.