Fears over funding for stop smoking services in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council has underlined its commitment to supporting residents to quit smoking in the wake of concerns about public health funding cuts.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 12:25 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 3:44 pm
Picture c/o Pixabay

Earlier this month, Ash and Cancer Research UK published a report on Stop smoking services and tobacco control work in English local authorities.

It has been highlighted by the Local Government Association (LGA), particularly in relation to concerns about public health funding from the Government.

“Councils can help the Government achieve its ambition of eliminating smoking by 2030 with adequate long-term funding for their public health services,” said Coun Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board.

“Smoking rates continue to fall, which is good news, but, as this report highlights, there needs to be greater help for those most in need of support, including routine and manual workers or people with mental-health conditions.”

Among the report’s recommendations are that:

The Government must reverse cuts to public health funding and deliver new investment in local tobacco control by imposing a ‘polluter pays’ charge on the tobacco industry;

The NHS and local authorities should work together to ensure that new NHS services developed in response to the Long Term Plan are integrated with wider community stop smoking support;

Local authorities should ensure that all smokers have access to behavioural support to help them quit smoking.

Northumberland County Council’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, said: “The council commissions a stop smoking service as part of its responsibilities to improve population health and wellbeing.

“We work with partners to reduce the number of people who smoke in the population, using a comprehensive approach to tobacco control. This includes a regional office for tobacco control, a specialist Stop Smoking Service and a training and brief advice function delivered by our Integrated Wellbeing Service, as well as stop smoking support delivered in primary care by GP practices and pharmacies.

“Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Trust are working together to ensure that action implemented as part of the Long Term Plan is coordinated and complementary.”

Coun Veronica Jones, the cabinet member for adult wellbeing and health, added: “Trying to stop smoking can seem daunting at first, but with the right support it can be easier to quit.

“There is lots of support available from the Stop Smoking Service and the advisors will discuss the range of options with you to create a plan which suits you and your lifestyle.”

The Ash and Cancer Research UK ‘Many ways forward’ report can be found at https://ash.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Many-Ways-Forward.pdf

The LGA’s Coun Hudspeth added: “People’s lives are improved for the better by councils, with every pound invested by the Government in council-run services such as public health helping to relieve pressure on other services like the NHS, criminal justice and welfare.

“Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and local government stands ready to work with central government to tackle this.”