News & Reviews

Help to quit smoking is victim of health squeeze

There are many smokers who would like to quit but find it difficult; there have been many aids available, some through the NHS and others at clinics or online pharmacies. The success rate for these stop smoking aids is very high and there are many that believe that the decision, by councils in in many areas, that smokers are no longer being given medication to help them quit by GPs, is short sighted. Health professionals are quick to point out that the health of smokers who quit is improved and places less burden on the overstretched NHS budgets.

In recent reports by charities Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), they claim that disadvantaged smokers are being hit hardest. The figures quoted show that only three in five local authorities are offering support to smokers in line with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; this hits the poor and disadvantaged the most, as many people argue that wealthier smokers could afford to buy the medication. But this is countered by others who point out that with a packet of cigarettes costing up to £10.00, even those who smoked only 10 cigarettes per day, they would be spending in excess of £1800 per year, this is an expense that they would no longer incur if they quit.

Where do the tobacco companies stand in all of this is a question asked by many; Ash, Cancer Research UK and other health organisations have long argued that it is the responsibility of the tobacco industry, which they point out makes around £1 billion a year in the UK, they should be responsible for paying for the necessary medication, but this of course is the same as turkeys voting for Christmas!

It is known that thousands of people die from smoking related diseases each year, and it is argued that the government should place a levy on the industry to fund the support smokers need, but the industry would be quick to point to the massive tax and duties already imposed on tobacco products.

Governments do not have their own money of course; it is raised through taxes in many forms and to fund the reducing numbers of people that still smoke, which is now down to slightly under 17% in England, by having to raise tax or reduce funds to other areas would not be very welcome. Saving as much as £60 or £70 per week by going “Cold Turkey” is the choice of an increasing number of smokers.

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