Government and local authorities urged to invest more in helping smokers quit as awareness campaign reaches milestone
To mark the 30th No Smoking Day today (March 13), the UK government and local authorities are being urged to invest more in helping smokers give up the habit.
Established in 1983, when around a third of people smoked, No Smoking Day works to support smokers who want to quit in a bid to reduce a number of associated health risks and costs. The charity WeQuit does this by raising awareness of the Day, which takes place on the second Wednesday in March every year, and by highlighting the many sources of help available for quitters.
In a report published to mark No Smoking Day 2013 entitled ’30 No Smoking Days Later – in pursuit of the final fifth’, the BHF highlights that after decades of declining smoking rates, the UK had reached a a six-year plateau in prevalence at around 20%.
It is now calling for immediate action from UK governments and local authorities to help the UK’s ‘final fifth’ beat their addiction.
The report says: “The BHF wants to see all four UK governments and local authorities increasing investment in NHS Stop Smoking Services, making them more widely available and easy to access particularly for disadvantaged and pregnant smokers.
“Cessation services must continue to receive guaranteed funding – allowing services to be extended to alternative settings such as job centres and mental health units to access hard-to-reach groups.â€?
The BHF explains that in 2008, the annual cost saving from the reduction in smoking prevalence was estimated to be £380 million.
The BHF is also calling on the government to introduce legislation on standardised tobacco packaging in a bid to reduce its appeal to consumers, particularly the young. It also wants larger health warnings on the packets. The Department of Health started a consultation in March 2011 on standardised packaging which ended last August and it is understood that legislation could be announced in May.
BHF director of policy and communications, Betty McBride, said: “The tobacco giants are notoriously protective about their slick cigarette packaging – here’s a bit of slick that does some good for once. We need to up our game if we are going to help people beat their addiction to tobacco by finding new ways to reach out to them. “We want to help the two thirds of smokers who tell us repeatedly that they’re desperate to quit.â€?
City of York council is among the many organisations to lend its support to No Smoking Day 2013 and is keen to see standardised tobacco packaging introduced. According to the council, smoking causes over 1300 deaths every year in York and North Yorkshire and 16.9% of over 18s in York in 2011 were classed as smokers.
Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for health, housing and adult social services at the council, said: “City of York council supports the move towards standardised packaging because the packets are less attractive to children and young people, less misleading about the health risks of smoking and make health warnings more graphic, obvious and effective.â€?
Paul Edmondson-Jones, city of York council’s director of public health said: “Recent research suggests established adult smokers rarely change the brand of tobacco they smoke and the vast majority know which brand they will ask for before they walk into a shop. Therefore new, young smokers are the primary target of industry marketing. Moving to standardised packaging would reduce the brand appeal and reduce smoking initiation. The introduction of standardised packaging is a necessary measure to improve public health in the long term.â€?