Smokers forced to quit on their own after funding cuts

From The Observer: Thousands of smokers are being left without the support they need to quit after prescriptions of products to help them stop plummeted by 75% over the last decade, according to a report.

GPs are the most common first port of call for smokers who want to beat their addiction in England – 38% of smokers choose this route.

However, primary care prescriptions of nicotine replacement patches and gum and the smoking-cessation drugs bupropion and varenicline fell by three-quarters in England between 2005-06 and 2016-17.

In Worcestershire, where 15% of the population smokes, the local authority decommissioned its stop-smoking services, and local clinical commissioning groups advised GPs not to prescribe stop-smoking aids for new patients in April 2016, the report reveals.

As a result, just 98 people last year were helped to quit successfully across the Worcestershire council area compared with 2,208 the previous year, and there were no recorded attempts to quit through GPs and only one in a hospital setting.

The BLF says smokers are bearing the brunt of government budget cuts and are being discriminated against.

Stephen Spiro, professor of respiratory medicine and medical adviser at the charity, said in a foreword: “Many smokers cannot get the medication they need to quit because of the decisions made by their local health services.

“In England, the national cuts in public health funding will total over £600m by 2021.

“This report shows that we’re reaping the very real effects of sustained cuts to funding. It also shows how decisions are being taken by a growing number of clinical commissioning groups to stop GPs from prescribing clinically effective and appropriate medication for smokers. This is a travesty.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]