The delivery of the new Tobacco Control Plan, House of Commons, 16 November 2021

Since its launch in May 2013, over 100 councils across the country have signed the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control.


Key messages

  • Smoking is the single largest cause of preventable death and the biggest cause of cancer worldwide. As well as impacting upon health, smoking places a significant burden on the public purse – to the tune of £12.6 billion each year. Beyond the significant cost to the health and social care system, it also impacts the local economy through sick days and lost productivity.
  • Councils can help the Government achieve its ambition of eliminating smoking in England by 2030 through their tobacco control and other public health and support services. The LGA supported the aims of the Tobacco Control Plan 2017-22 and we look forward to the publication of the new Plan, which is due by the end of 2021. It is expected the new Plan will take into account the findings of the Government’s review of tobacco legislation, and Public Health England’s seventh report on vaping.  
  • Council public health teams work hard to help reduce smoking rates in their areas, alongside local charities and community groups, and it is testament to their efforts that smoking rates continue to fall. Trading Standards’ Tobacco Control Survey for England 2019/20 found that 99 per cent of councils are undertaking at least one type of tobacco control activity.
  • Since its launch in May 2013, over 100 councils across the country have signed the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control. Developed by Newcastle City Council, the Declaration is a statement of a council’s commitment to ensure tobacco control is part of mainstream public health work and commits councils to taking comprehensive action to address the harm from smoking.
  • To support councils in their work to reduce smoking, the LGA, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, produced a report Tobacco control: How do you know that your council is doing all it can to reduce smoking-related harm? which lays out the importance of tobacco control and what councillors can do to reduce smoking-related harm. The report also includes examples of good practice.
  • Comprehensive tobacco control is the best thing a local authority can do for public health. Reducing smoking rates among the remaining 5.7 million smokers in England will reduce cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions and cancer, meaning people can live longer in better health.  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimates that every £1 invested in smoking cessation saves £10 in future health care costs.
  • Certainty over long-term funding is needed. Local authorities’ public health grant has been cut by 24 per cent on a real-terms per capita basis since 2015/16 (equivalent to a reduction of £1 billion). This has had an adverse effect on councils’ ability to invest in services and functions that prevent ill health, reduce health inequalities and support a sustainable health and social care system. This includes smoking cessation and tobacco control.
  • It was therefore disappointing that there was no real terms increase in public health grant funding in the Autumn Budget and Spending Review, despite this incredibly challenging period. This makes it harder to improve public health, including tackling smoking related harm. Keeping people healthy and well throughout their lives reduces pressure on the NHS, social care, criminal justice and the benefits system.

Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control

The Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control was developed by Newcastle City Council. It is a statement of a council’s commitment to ensure tobacco control is part of mainstream public health work and commits councils to taking comprehensive action to address the harm from smoking. Since it was launched in May 2013, over 100 councils across the country have signed the Declaration.

The Declaration commits councils to:

  • Reduce smoking prevalence and health inequalities
  • Develop plans with partners and local communities
  • Participate in local and regional networks
  • Support Government action at national level
  • Protect tobacco control work from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry
  • Monitor the progress of our plans
  • Join the Smokefree Action Coalition

In August 2014, a sister document to the Declaration, the NHS Statement of Support for Tobacco Control was launched to allow NHS organisations to show their support for tobacco control. This has now been superseded by the NHS Smokefree Pledge, which was launched in January 2018.

LGA and Cancer Research UK report

To support councils in their work to reduce smoking, the LGA, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, produced a report Tobacco control: How do you know that your council is doing all it can to reduce smoking-related harm? which lays out the importance of tobacco control and what councillors can do to reduce smoking-related harm. Suggestions include:

Stop Smoking Services

Evidence is clear that specialist Stop Smoking Services offer the most effective way for a person to successfully quit smoking. These services deliver face-to-face behavioural support, in combination with prescription medication and/or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). This combined approach has been shown to be highly effective in improving long-term quit rates.

E-cigarettes

There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes are helping people to quit, with e-cigarettes now the most popular quit method in England. Of the estimated 3.2 million e-cigarette users in Britain, over half are ex-smokers.

Local quit campaigns

Media campaigns are highly impactful and cost-effective, both in encouraging smokers to quit and discouraging young people from taking up the habit. PHE runs mass media campaigns at a national level, but these campaigns have greater impact when complemented by targeted campaigns at a local level. Local campaigns can be tailored to priority groups or areas with high smoking prevalence as a way to address health inequalities.

Investment

Local authorities’ public health grant has been cut by 24 per cent on a real-terms per capita basis since 2015/16 (equivalent to a reduction of £1 billion). This has had an adverse effect on councils’ ability to invest in services and functions that prevent ill health, reduce health inequalities and support a sustainable health and social care system. This includes smoking cessation and tobacco control. Research by The Health Foundation showed that spending on tobacco control will have dropped by 45 per cent between 2014/15 and 2019/20 – the biggest drop in all areas of public health provision.

It was therefore very disappointing that there was no real terms increase in public health grant funding in the Autumn Budget and Spending Review, despite this incredibly challenging period. This makes it harder to improve public health, including tackling smoking related harm. Keeping people healthy and well throughout their lives reduces pressure on the NHS, social care, criminal justice and the benefits system.

Contact

Laura Johnson

[email protected]