Ashtray of cigarettes
Ashtray of cigarettes

Shropshire Council axed the public health services which helped people lose weight and stop smoking, Help2Slim and Help2Quit, as part of a £4 million cut to public health spending in 2019.

This was despite evidence that Help2Quit saved the council much more money than it cost. Smokers using the service were four times more likely to successfully give up than if they tried to quit alone. Smoking causes disability, and the cost to adult social care services of smoking-related illnesses in Shropshire is over £8 million a year according to a report from one of its own officers. On average, says the report, smokers need social care nine years earlier than the rest of the population.

Since Help2Quit was abolished the number of Shropshire people successfully quitting smoking has plummeted according to NHS data on Stop Smoking services. Between April and September  2018, 1911 Shropshire smokers set a quit date and 815 of those said they succeeded, according to NHS data.  In the same period last year (2020) 44 smokers set a quit date and 19 of those claimed to have succeeded.

Shropshire also has one of the highest rates of obesity in the country, with 72% of the adult population either overweight or obese according to Public Health England. Obesity increases the risk of many diseases including diabetes, cancer and severe coronavirus. More than 6000 Shropshire people were admitted to hospital in 2018 with a primary or secondary diagnosis of obesity.

Responsibility for local public health was transferred to local authorities in 2013. Unitary authorities such as Shropshire have a statutory duty under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act to take appropriate steps to improve the health of the people who live in their areas.

How can abolishing Help2Quit and Help2Slim be justified?

Report to Shropshire Council on impact of cuts to Help2Quit

Statistics sources:

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