Can’t kick butt? Redbridge has one of worst smoker quit rates

Redbridge has one of the worst rates of smokers quitting in the country.

Redbridge has one of the worst rates of smokers quitting in the country. - Credit: PA

Nearly three-quarters of people in Redbridge on a programme to quit smoking failed to kick the habit – one of the highest rates in England.

NHS Digital data shows 139 people on the NHS Stop Smoking Service in the area set a date to quit between April and December last year.

At follow-up meetings held a month later, 41 said they had given up – at just 29pc, this was one of the worst outcomes in the country.

The rate dropped to 20pc when only counting those who confirmed this with a test to measure carbon monoxide levels in their bloodstream, which indicates tobacco use.

Someone is counted as having quit if they report that two weeks after their quit date they are no longer taking a puff.

Councillor Mark Santos, cabinet member for health, social care, mental health & the ageing, said: “We accept the figures presented, but it’s important to stress they relate to a period when we didn’t have a comprehensive smoking cessation service in place. We now have a provider in place.”

Everyone Health – Redbridge was commissioned in July 2019 to provide a new evidence-based service to support residents who smoke, including providing specialist support to the more vulnerable members of the community.

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When asked about the results after Everyone Health was commissioned by the council in the middle of this period a council spokesperson said: “Like any new service provider, they required a period of transition to mobilise and familiarise themselves with the health needs of our residents.”

Across England as a whole, the self-reported rate was 51pc, although this decreased to 36pc for those tested.

A spokeswoman for charity Action on Smoking and Health said: “All smokers deserve support to quit and for many it can make the difference between success and failure.

“However, good services need funding and national government has repeatedly cut the public health budget.

“We are now in the midst of a respiratory pandemic with the biggest impacts being felt by the most disadvantaged, and while local authorities are doing their best, if we’re to ensure that all smokers get the help they need, those cuts to the public health budget must be reversed.”

In Redbridge, £223,943 was allocated for stop smoking services in 2019-20, excluding the cost of medicines.

This was down from £253,315 in 2014-15, the earliest period with comparable data.

The programme usually includes support such as group therapy or one-to-one counselling, although these have been suspended due to the coronavirus.

Rachael Hodges, senior policy officer at the British Lung Foundation, said: “While face-to-face support has come to a halt due to Covid-19, many stop smoking services are continuing to provide behavioural support and stop smoking treatment remotely.

“We’d urge anyone looking to quit to search online for NHS smoke-free to find support near them.”

In Redbridge, a higher proportion of men said they successfully spurned cigarettes, with 34pc quitting compared to 24pc of women.

A similar pattern was seen nationally, where the figure stood at 53pc and 50pc respectively.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said smoking rates were at a record low level of 14.4pc across the country.

She added: “However, we are not complacent and our ambition is for England to become a smoke-free society by 2030.

“Prevention remains at the heart of our NHS Long Term Plan, and this year we have made £3 billion of funding available to support local authorities, including stop smoking services.”

Cllr Santos added: “With summer now in full swing and the outdoors beckoning, there has never been a better time to quit smoking and help reduce your risk of serious illness. Quitting will also drastically improve your overall health and wellbeing.

“Why not take the all-important step today and give up cigarettes once and for all by contacting 0333 005 0095 or emailing”