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  1. ITV Report

Smokefree South West to close this summer after cuts to funding

Smokefree South West is to close in June after cuts to public health funding.

The organisation has run a series of hard-hitting advertising campaigns to get people to give up smoking Credit: ITV News

The news comes just days before the organisation's campaign ad hits television screens across the region.

The Be There Tomorrow campaign aims to shock smokers and make them think about quitting for themselves and their families.

You can watch a Be There Tomorrow ad below:

Credit: Smokefree South West Ad

While the letter of termination praised us as having provided ‘an excellent service working to address the issues and reduce the harm caused by tobacco and alcohol’, it also cited the decision to terminate the contract as ‘a direct result of the severe public health cuts announced in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review.'

We are proud of the major contribution we have made to the reduction in smoking prevalence in the region."

– Smokefree South West

'Proud of our achievements'

Smokefree South West was commissioned by 11 Public Health teams across the region - their goal was to develop a programme to try to create a smoke free future.

They were re-comissioned as Public Health Action, which also worked on reducing alcohol-related harm.

The group says they have helped reduce the number of smokers in the region. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Via public campaigns and support services for people trying to quit smoking, the organisation works to accelerate the reduction in smoking rate across the South West and make tobacco use less desirable and accessible.

<17%
The smoking prevalence in the South West
20%
The approximate smoking prevalence across eNGLAND.
38%
Proportion of ex-smokers in the South West - the highest in the UK

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has written to the Health Select Committee and to the local authorities that have provided funding to the group to urge them to reconsider their proposed funding cuts.

In the letters the APPG recommends that the councils meet with the Department of Health and other public health partners to discuss how funding might be secured in the future.

Regional tobacco control activities have been shown by NICE to be highly cost effective and Smokefree South West has achieved a great deal in helping to cut the regional smoking rate to under 17%

We understand the financial pressures that local authorities are experiencing but given the huge costs of treating smoking induced ill health, we urge the south west local authorities to reconsider their decision to cut funding to such an effective area of activity.”

– Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy of health charity ASH

Consumer campaigners welcome closure

Campaigners from the consumer group Forest say they welcome the forthcoming closure.

In a statement, Simon Clark, the director of Forest, said:

"Taxpayers already pay for NHS smoking cessation services and national anti-smoking campaigns."

"When budgets are so tight, and other services are being cut, it's difficult to justify the use of public money to support yet another tobacco control group."

The health risks of smoking are very well known and widely publicised by other bodies including Public Health England which has a regional office in Bristol.

In terms of public health, the impact of Smokefree South West closing will be negligible.

– Simon Clark, director of Forest