Today (11th March), marks National No Smoking Day, an important milestone on which we can focus our efforts as a society to help people quit smoking. This is now more important than ever, as last year the Government set an ambitious goal for England to be smoke free by 2030.
Which is why, on National No Smoking Day, we pledge to do everything we can to help people lead healthier, longer lives and reduce the burden on the NHS. I feel very passionate about the importance of new approaches to prevention for the UK population and the NHS, as I truly believe it can make a difference. If we can encourage every smoker who has contact with the NHS to stop smoking, we can help prevent ill health and reduce demands on the healthcare system. That way, we can protect the NHS as a treasured national resource, while also protecting society from disease.
The negative health impacts of smoking are well known. The NHS and public health bodies have made significant efforts to reduce tobacco use through the introduction of stop smoking services, smoking control measures and public awareness campaigns.
Great progress has been made in moving towards a smoke-free society and the UK now has one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe with fewer than 1 in 6 adults smoking.1 There is still more to be done however, with 489,300 hospital admissions and sadly 77,800 deaths reported in 2017 linked to smoking.2
Additionally, smoking is often highly correlated with geographical health and socio-economic inequalities. As the new Government delivers its first budget today, there would be a welcome focus on levelling up economic prosperity across the country.
As the NHS and Government have acknowledged, there is a significant opportunity in encouraging people to stop smoking via their everyday use of the health service.
People come into contact with the NHS at some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives. They are unwell already - yet often exacerbate risks by continuing to smoke.
These interactions with a healthcare system are genuine ‘teachable moments’ for people with significant health risk factors like smoking.
We’re currently working with the NHS in Manchester on a joint working project as part of their CURE programme which is aimed at curing tobacco addiction through interventions in the hospital setting.
Through effective targeted advice from a healthcare professional, licensed therapeutic intervention and ongoing stop smoking support, people are more likely to quit.
These hospital-based interventions could make a significant contribution to reaching the smoke-free 2030 goal and as a leading healthcare organisation we can help to support their introduction. More broadly, these types of initiatives would also help to contribute to the NHS’s long-term plan by reducing the number of deaths which occur due to cardiovascular disease.
So, on No Smoking Day we pledge to support the 2030 smoke-free ambition. In order to make the UK healthier and support our NHS, we must all play our part in this important public health initiative.
- GOV UK. Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s – consultation document Accessed Nov 2021
- NHS UK. Accessed Nov 2021
PP-PFE-GBR-4219 / November 2021