As we come to terms with new statistics around smoking, questions will inevitably arise on smoking cessation services going forward.
Smoking cessation services are commissioned through local authorities. It is funded by the Public Health grant which is handed to local Councils and ring-fenced for spending specifically on public health activity.
The ring-fence is set to come off the grant in 2020 and funding arrangements are set to change so that local authorities will be reliant on business rate income in the future to fund public health activity. Councils’ public health grant funding is being cut before that point with £531 million lost between 2015/16 and 2019/2020.
With such a dire outlook for local authorities and the reduction in smokers in general, the future of smoking cessation as we know it is being questioned by local authorities. Indeed Directors of Public Health are already readying the ground and are feeling that money could be better spent targeting smoking cessation services to particular groups such as people under the care of mental health services.
This could have an impact on pharmacies as it does make a significant contribution to their income. This is at a time when they are already feeling the pinch following changes in how dispensing is funded.