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Funding Cuts Smoking Cessation Support

16th Jul 2018

Despite vaping working wonders for helping individuals to stop smoking, NHS support should not be being dialed back, and yet it is. We look at what is really happening to local cessation clinics and overall stop smoking support.

   A report has shown that the number of prescriptions written for medications that are prescribed to help individuals give up their harmful smoking habit has dropped significantly over the past ten years by up to 75% in England alone. A Welsh drop of 66% was reported and a 40% reduction in Scotland. If these numbers was indicative of the fact that very few people are now left smoking, that would be great, however this is not the case.

While some would argue that switching to vaping, an alternative to smoking that is favoured by many healthcare professionals, charities and even Public Health England, could account or some of the drop in smoking cessation prescriptions (i.e. fewer people visiting the stop-smoking clinics), public data tells a different story.

Visiting the GP or associated clinic within the GP practice has long-since been the first port of call for those looking to give up smoking, and often one which has helped many successfully walk away from their harmful habit for good. With funding for the clinics being slashed across the UK there is much concern for those who would use the winning combination of medication, gum and/or patches alongside ongoing support to quit who couldn’t or wouldn’t without it. Clearly without this support, support that according to NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is three times more likely to be successful compared to the going cold turkey method, many would continue to smoke, thereby continuing to damage their health in the short and long term.

The Less Help to Quit report, commission by the British Lung Foundation is due to go live today (16th July 2017) and will detail not only the effects of the decline in the amount of support but also the reason for it. This report will make interesting reading as NHS data will show how a number of stop-smoking service have been cut already to save money and is likely to indicate where further cutbacks are likely to occur.

While everyone is aware that the NHS is in financial crisis and therefore needs to make cutbacks the concern is that pulling back on cessation support will cost the NHS (and individuals) more in the long-run, with admissions for smoking-related illnesses costing millions each year alone.

From a common-sense point of view, those who see the ongoing cuts are inevitable, feel that if NHS services which 

help people quit smoking are no longer viable that more information needs to be given to individuals looking to quit on the benefits of vaping. There is a lot of confusion regarding vaping, e cigarettes and e liquids which if cleared up could see more and more people switching from smoking to vaping. This is what Public Health England would like to see happen as they, as part of their own research review, have publicly supported vaping as an alternative to smoking, announcing their findings that show vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.

If the NHS are unable to offer one solution due to funding cuts, surely they should be advocating for another? Some NHS trusts have already started this process as part of their stop smoking services, with one PCT offering a one-time-only £25 vaping voucher for local stores in order to purchase a starter kit and move over to vaping. Here at Go Smoke Free we applaud their forward thinking and hope to see more NHS areas doing the same or similar to combat the negative effects of the damaging cuts to stop smoking clinics and support across the UK.

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