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« New year, new anti-smoking campaign | Main | Happy Christmas! »

Perfect sense

Hope you're enjoying the Christmas break.

I intended to publish this post yesterday. Instead I braved the snow and took my family to the cinema to watch Paddington 2 (which is very good, btw).

When we got back all roads into the village had flooded and we had to abandon the car and walk to the house.

It was then a rush to beat the rising water in order to drive my mother home to Derbyshire - avoiding the A14 that was blocked for seven hours yesterday – which is where I woke up this morning to a thick frost.

Now back home in Cambridgeshire I've been writing a response to a new publicly-funded anti-smoking campaign being launched tomorrow (and recording an interview for Sky News Radio).

Anyway, I wasn't intending to post much this week, apart from a review of the year (if I have time), but I thought I'd mention a report that appeared as an 'exclusive' in the Independent on Boxing Day.

The headline (Local councils cut millions of pounds from stop-smoking services while investments in tobacco companies soar) sums it up.

Councils are investing millions of pounds in some of the world’s largest tobacco companies at the same time as funding for services to help people stop smoking is being slashed, an investigation by The Independent has revealed.

Investments in cigarette giants including Phillip Morris and Imperial Tobacco by local authorities in England have increased by hundreds of millions of pounds over the past five years.

At the same time, councils have nearly halved the money available to help smokers to beat their addiction.

The paper was obviously waiting for a slow news day to run the story because Forest was invited to comment seven days before it appeared.

Our full response read:

“Investing in the tobacco industry and reducing funding for stop smoking services are completely unrelated.

“Councils have a duty not to waste public money and it would be silly to rule out investing in a legitimate and traditionally profitable industry.

“Cutting funding for smoking cessation services also makes perfect sense. Demand for stop smoking services has fallen by over 50 per cent since 2010 so it’s a complete waste of money to maintain funding at previous levels.

“Instead of using expensive public services, smokers who want to quit are increasingly switching to e-cigarettes without the need for any state intervention. That’s great news for taxpayers who shouldn’t be expected to pay for smokers to stop.”

I didn't expect the paper to use every line but they could have used a bit more than:

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said slashing funding for smoking-cessation programmes made “perfect sense” as demand for the service had dropped, with smokers increasingly turning to e-cigarettes.

C'est la vie.

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