People aren't getting the help they need to quit smoking

It’s been over a year since we revealed just how few people are getting help from their GP to quit smoking. Rachael from our policy team updates us on what has happened since.

Since we published our report Less help to quit, we’ve been working hard to improve access to stop smoking services across the UK. As a result of this, we’re very pleased that areas like Northamptonshire have committed to training more GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists to provide help to quit! This is excellent news and will help more people get the support they need to stop smoking for good.

There are fewer stop smoking products nationwide

However, this isn’t the case everywhere. We’re really concerned that, across England, even fewer stop smoking products are now making it into the hands of those who need them.

The products people can be prescribed include nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, and medication like Champix or Zyban. These can be really effective at helping people to quit, particularly when used alongside support from a stop smoking advisor. They even save money for the health system by boosting the chance a person will stay smoke-free and become healthier.

Yet the number of these products that have been given to people trying to quit has fallen from about 2.5 million between 2010-2011 to 740,000 between 2018-2019.

That means that, since we published our report, 235,000 fewer products have been given out each year. That’s a huge number of smokers who aren’t being supported to quit.

More support is needed from the government

We need all doctors, nurses and pharmacists to be able to prescribe these treatments to anybody trying to stop smoking. We also need the government to commit to more funding for the services that provide these products.

It’s been one year since we published Less help to quit, yet it remains a postcode lottery if you need to get these vital treatments. That’s just not fair. Urgent change is needed for all smokers to get help to quit.


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Rachael from our policy team

Rachael Hodges

Rachel is the senior policy officer at the BLF. She works with the UK government, and organisations like the NHS, to make sure they're doing what is right for people living with lung conditions.

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30 August 2019