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Stop smoking services: BMJ analysis shows how councils are stubbing them out

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3649 (Published 24 August 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3649

Opinion

How do we stop people smoking at the front doors of our hospitals?

  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Cash strapped councils have slashed smoking cessation budgets in England again this year, The BMJ has found. As some areas dispense with them entirely, Gareth Iacobucci examines whether these services are withering on the vine

The number of people using NHS smoking cessation services to help them quit decreased by 11% last year, the sixth year in a row that the level has fallen, official figures published on 16 August showed.1 And the British Lung Foundation found in July that the number of GP prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) in England has fallen by 75% in the past decade.2

These figures could be partly attributable to UK smoking rates being historically low at 16%,3 a proportion that compares favourably with many European neighbours. But rates are still high among disadvantaged groups: for example, an estimated 40% of people with mental illness smoke.

The rise of electronic cigarettes may also be a factor. Last week a report by MPs called for a relaxation of regulations on e-cigarettes to encourage more people to stop smoking.4 But huge, austerity driven cuts to …

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