Stop smoking drive in England axed following health budget cuts

Following the cancellation of an anti-smoking campaign, the government has been blamed for undermining the target to make England a smoke-free country. A 24% reduction to the public health marketing budget brought this. A Public Health scheme in the UK, Health Harms, has recently set a quest to harness the coming year resolutions in January to encourage the six million people smoking tobacco in England to stop via vaping, and visualization of how chemicals that cause cancer are inhaled.

Due to tax increases and the introduction of plain packaging, the rates of smoking have subsided. However, the government has been urged to show more interest following the discovery of the anti-smoking budget cut to £3.8 million from £5m. British Lung Foundation’s senior policy officer, Rachael Hodges, said that it was a reckless decision to reduce budgets for these campaigns. It would result in increased pressure on the NHS brought by illnesses connected to smoking, and it also disheartens smokers trying to quit smoking, she added. The smoking rates in the country are coming down, however, it is crucial not to be complacent. Using mass media for campaigns is essential to encourage smokers to stay free of smoking.

According to the charity, the lowering of funding works against the government’s focus to create a smoke-free England by 2030. This is because mass media is crucial in assisting individuals to quit. It stated that PHE’s 28-day Stoptober campaign had brought fewer quit attempts following the drop in advertising on radio and TV. The successful quit attempt rate decreased to 6% in 2016 from 8% in 2015. This is due to the slashing of mass media spending to £390,000 from £3.1 million. Generally, the campaign labeled “Stoptober” is estimated to have resulted in around 2 million quit attempts since 2012, and the BLF noted that there was proof indicating stop smoking campaigns were fruitful in assisting individuals in fighting the habit.

Almost 78,000 individuals in the United Kingdom lose their lives each year due to smoking. Hence, it is one of the biggest causes of death and diseases in the country. More and more people are living with crippling illnesses brought by smoking. The BLF demanded from Treasury a reintroduction of full funding for the January Health Harms campaigns and Stoptober, stating that smoking costs the society above £11bn each year, of which £2.5bn falls entirely on the NHS. In the September expenditure audit, the chancellor, Sajid Javid, published an unspecified real terms addition to the Public Health grant budget.

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