Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: stop smoking services

Stopping Smoking: Guide

The health benefits of stopping smoking start within hours of putting out the last cigarette.  Using a combination of medication and behavioural support can substantially increase the chances of successfully quitting.
March 2020.

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ASH Daily News for 16 July 2018


  • Significant cuts to stop smoking services across UK
  • A fifth of people in Ipswich still smoke – one of the highest rates in Britain
  • Illegal tobacco seized in Croydon


  • Tobacco stocks have lost around 20% this year
  • Andorra vows to kick habit of cigarette advertising


Significant cuts to stop smoking services across UK

Thousands of smokers are being left without the support they need to quit after prescriptions of products to help them stop have plummeted by 75% over the last decade, according to a new report by the British Lung Foundation (BLF).

GPs are the most common first port of call for smokers who want to beat their addiction in England – 38% of smokers choose this route. However, primary care prescriptions of nicotine replacement patches and gum and the smoking-cessation drugs bupropion and varenicline fell by three-quarters in England between 2005-06 and 2016-17.

In Scotland there was a 40% drop, while in Wales prescription rates fell by two-thirds. This is despite the fact that a combination of support and medication has been shown to be the most effective way to help smokers quit – increasing the chance of successfully beating their addiction threefold compared with going “cold turkey” – and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Source: The Observer, 15 July 2018

See also: British Lung Foundation, Less Help to Quit: What’s happening to stop-smoking prescriptions across Britain

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A fifth of people in Ipswich still smoke – one of the highest rates in Britain

A fifth of people living in Ipswich still smoke, new Office for National Statistics data shows.
Smoking rates across the country have fallen steadily, including in East Anglia. In Ipswich the proportion of smokers has fallen from 23.6% in 2011 to 20% last year. However this is still above the average for England which is now at 14.9%.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, James Reeder, said the council took helping people to quit smoking very seriously. “Three people in Suffolk die from smoking related illnesses each day, last year our initiatives helped 1,624 people quit smoking. We are working with other partners in the health system to ensure prevention is included in the new integrated care system being delivered through the alliances.”

Source: East Anglian Daily Times, 15 July 2018

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Illegal tobacco seized in Croydon

Trading Standards officers and specialist handlers with sniffer dogs found around 700 packets of illegal cigarettes at three properties in Thornton Heath and West Croydon.

The counterfeit packets, all of which were found at independent shops and are sold for around £10 each, featured fake packaging from well-known cigarette brands including Marlboro, Dunhill, Rothmans and Mayfair.

Source: Talking Retail, 16 July 2018

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Tobacco stocks have lost around 20% this year

As of July 12, the world’s three biggest tobacco companies have each lost around 20% of their stock value this year. According to data from S&P; Global Market Intelligence, Altria (NYSE: MO), the U.S. seller of Marlboro, is down 18%; Philip Morris (NYSE: PM), the international distributor of Marlboro and other brands, has fallen 21%; and British American Tobacco (NYSE: BTI), which sells brands including Dunhill and Pall Mall, is down 22%.

The industry is struggling with the global shift away from smoking cigarettes due to health concerns, while at the same time trying to pivot to alternatives such as e-cigarettes. The once financially-reliable sector has suffered this year and its biggest three stocks saw significant losses in April.

Source: Yahoo Finance, 15 July 2018

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Andorra vows to kick habit of cigarette advertising

Andorra said on Thursday that it will soon ban cigarette advertisements. The government has signed up to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which aims to discourage smoking and combat contraband sales.

The tiny principality of Andorra, perched in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain, attracts millions of shoppers each year to duty-free stores, where prices of alcohol, cigarettes, electronics and clothes can be up to 20% lower than elsewhere in the EU.

High taxes on tobacco imposed by many countries make Andorra’s cigarettes relatively cheap. The average pack in Andorra costs just three euros compared with eight euros in France, which has said it will gradually raise the price to 10 euros a pack by November 2020.

Tobacco sales bring in some 110 million euros a year for Andorra, whose economy is otherwise based almost entirely on tourism. It is also an enticing destination for smugglers, with French and Spanish border agents regularly seizing cartons from people trying to sneak them out, either by car or by hiking down the mountain trails which criss-cross the Pyrenees.

No date has been set for the advertising ban, which will come into effect three months after the ratification of the WHO Convention is agreed by parliament.

Source: Medical Xpress, 12 July 2018

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Health charity welcomes new stop smoking guidance but lack of services raises concerns

28 March 2018

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomes new guidance published today (Wednesday 28th March) by NICE [1] on how to best support smokers to quit. It also welcomes the clear recommendations from NICE to health professionals about the advice smokers should be given on e-cigarettes.

However, the charity is deeply concerned that there are a declining number of specialist services around the country to implement this guidance.

An ASH/ Cancer Research UK [2] report published in January looking at the state of local support for people to quit found that in 2017 budgets for stop smoking services were reduced in half of local authorities in England,  following reductions in 59% of local authorities in 2016, and in 39% of local authorities in 2015. In 2017, a specialist stop smoking service open to all smokers was provided by only 61% of local authorities.

Financial pressures due to the cuts to public health funding and the wider pressures on local government finances is the major culprit for the declining provision. A recent analysis by the King’s Fund found that in 2017/18 local authority funding for wider tobacco control faces reductions of more than 30%. Stop smoking services are one of the top four services in absolute planned cuts (£16 million). [3]

The lack of services for smokers are of particular concern for vulnerable groups such as pregnant smokers and those with a mental health condition. While smoking rates are steadily falling for the population as a whole there has been little change in people with a mental health condition [4] and rates among pregnant women have not fallen at all over the last 12 months [5].

Director of Policy, Hazel Cheeseman, said:

“It’s important to have good guidance but without services to make the guidance a reality then it becomes an academic exercise. This countries stop smoking services have been the envy of the world but they are being squeezed as a result of funding pressures. The Government needs to take action nationally to reverse this trend.”

ASH and other health organisations have been calling on the Government to plug the gap in funding through placing a levy on the tobacco industry to pay for the support smokers need [6].

Hazel Cheeseman added:

 “Tobacco companies are among the most profitable in the world. In these difficult financial times it would be a win-win for the Government to legislate to require Big Tobacco to cover the cost of supporting smokers to quit.”

The new guidance from NICE provides welcome clarity for health professionals about e-cigarettes. The guidance is clear that they should provide accurate information to smokers about the substantially reduced risks of vaping compared to smoking and that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing. [7]

As there are no products currently licensed as medicines NICE was unable to recommend prescribing e-cigarettes at this time. If licensed products do become available then this could change in the future. Nicotine replacement therapies like gum and patches are cheap and highly cost-effective medicines and e-cigarettes would be a welcome addition to the armoury.

Hazel Cheeseman added,

“As e-cigarettes are the most popular aid for quitting it is good news that NICE recommends that health professionals should reassure smokers that they are substantially less harmful than smoking. Looking to the future it is hoped that some e-cigarettes will be licensed as medicines and could then be prescribed providing doctors with another tool to help smokers who want to quit.”


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:

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.


[1] NICE press release: Help people make informed decisions when they want to quit smoking, says NICE and Public Health England

[2] Feeling the Heat, the decline of stop smoking services in England: ASH/Cancer Research UK, Jan 2018 by ASH, funded by Cancer Research UK

[3] Local spending on public health: death by a thousand cuts, D Buck, King’s Fund, 3 Jan 2018

[4] The Stolen Years, ASH, May 2016

[5] Smoking at Time of Delivery Data, NHS Digital, March 2018

[6] Smoking Still Kills, ASH, 2015

[7] See NICE guidance NG92 on Stop smoking interventions and services 1.5.1:

For people who smoke and who are using, or are interested in using, a nicotine-containing e-cigarette on general sale to quit smoking, explain that:

  • although these products are not licensed medicines, they are regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • many people have found them helpful to quit smoking cigarettes
  • people using e-cigarettes should stop smoking tobacco completely, because any smoking is harmful
  • the evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful to health than smoking but are not risk free
  • the evidence in this area is still developing, including evidence on the long-term health impact.

Cuts in public health grant leads to decline in support for smokers

15 January 2018

A report by Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health [1] showing that cuts to the public health budget nationally have led to dramatic changes in services for smokers. Only 61% of local authorities continue to offer all local smokers access to evidence-based support in line with NICE guidance.

Local areas report year-on-year budget cuts to stop smoking services. There is now at least one local authority in England where there is a zero budget for addressing smoking.

The survey of local authorities across England also found that 1 in 9 areas report that GPs are no longer prescribing nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, to smokers. One in 10 GPs do not provide access to varenicline, an effective prescription-only medication that helps smokers to quit.

George Butterworth, Senior Policy Manager, Cancer Research UK, said:

“National decisions to cut public health funding are having an impact on the ground. A growing number of local areas no longer have treatment available for all smokers that meets the necessary standards. On top of this, smokers in many areas can no longer access stop smoking medications from GPs. We are deeply concerned that the erosion in support will hit disadvantaged smokers hardest. We urge government at every level to ensure smokers have the support they need to stop smoking.”

ASH, Cancer Research UK and other health organisations have argued for a number of years that, in the context of the enormous burden tobacco places on society, the tobacco industry should be forced to pay to address the harm it causes [2]. It is estimated that tobacco companies in the UK make a collective annual profit of around a £1 billion [3].

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, ASH said:

“Thousands of people every year die from smoking with many more living with disabilities and disease. Shrinking public health budgets make it tougher to provide smokers with quit services while tobacco companies pocket a billion in profit every year in the UK. The Government should place a levy on the industry to fund the support smokers need.”  


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

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

Cancer Research UK receives no funding from the UK government for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on vital donations from the public.

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.

For Cancer Research UK media enquiries contact the press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.



[1] ‘Feeling the heat: The decline of Stop Smoking Services in England’ research undertaken by ASH commissioned by Cancer Research UK. Findings from a survey of Local Authorities with public health budgets. Survey work undertaken July – September 2017.

[2] Smoking Still Kills, 2015 – this report produced by ASH and funded by Cancer Research UK and endorsed by 129 organisations, set out the case for making the ‘polluter pay’ and placing a levy on the tobacco industry to fund work to reduce the number of people who smoke

[3] Branston JR, Gilmore AB. The extreme profitability of the UK tobacco market and the rationale for a new tobacco levy. University of Bath. 2015

ASH Briefing: Health inequalities and smoking

This briefing explains why smoking is a major contributory factor and what can be done to reduce health inequalities caused by smoking. It examines the relationship between smoking and socio-economic status, and certain social groups such as people with mental health conditions, prisoners, looked-after children and ethnic minorities.

ASH Briefing: Health inequalities and smoking

House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee: Inquiry into Government Proposals on Business Rates – ASH Submission

ASH’s submission focuses on what the effect of these proposals might have on: (a) Differences in outcomes in richer and poorer areas and inter-authority competition and (b) the long-term future of redistribution to poorer areas and impacts on development.


ASH response to the Department of Health’s consultation on ‘Local Authority public health allocations 2015-16: In-year savings’

ASH response to the Department of Health’s consultation on ‘Local Authority public health allocations 2015-16: In-year savings’.