Responding to the ASH report on budget cuts to stop smoking services (see previous post), the influential Local Government Association has issued a statement:
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Local Government Association Community Wellbeing spokesperson, said:
“Since the advent of e-cigarettes and campaigns such as Stoptober, we have seen the number of users of smoking cessation services fall, while the population of smokers left is now more challenging to get to quit.
“This means councils are re-evaluating what they do on tobacco control and how to be more effective.
“Councils remain committed to helping smokers quit, however they face significant cuts to public health budgets this year, and spending large volumes of money on a service people are not using will fast undermine the cost-effectiveness of providing it.”
In plain English, the Local Government Association doesn't believe stop smoking services offer value for money because smokers who wish to quit are increasingly embracing free market solutions such as e-cigarettes.
If the LGA is querying the point of stop smoking services, how long before local authorities start asking questions about regional anti-smoking groups such as Smokefree South West, Tobacco Free Futures and Fresh?
What, exactly, do those groups do that anti-tobacco groups such as Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation and the British Lung Foundation don't do already?
The British Lung Foundation runs No Smoking Day, Stoptober is backed by Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation, so there must also be question marks about the role of ASH as a quit smoking organisation.
Apart from media and political lobbying (and a 'project' paid for by central government using public money), what is the USP that justifies ASH's existence and an annual income that currently includes £150k of public money?
I'm damned if I know.