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'Invaluable' Stop Smoking service could be cut by Ealing Council as it aims to reduce spending by £73 million by 2021

The service which helps smokers kick the habit could be cut from April next year

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An “invaluable” service in Ealing which helps residents stop smoking could be cut next year as the council attempts to reduce its spending by £73 million by 2021.

The council has proposed discontinuing the Stop Smoking service from April 2019 after the government reduced Ealing’s public health ring-fenced grant allocation by £641,000 in 2018/19.

After launching a public consultation on the proposals, a spokesman from Ealing Council said the prevalence of smoking in the borough has been “steadily falling” over the past decade.

“The number of people quitting smoking through Stop Smoking services has been declining locally and nationally over recent years,” the spokesman said.

“The evidence shows that smokers are increasingly less likely to access traditional face-to-face services.

“Smoking prevalence in Ealing has been steadily falling over the last 10 years and is now at its lowest level.

“This fall is likely to have been driven by the smoking ban, e-cigarettes and changing societal attitudes towards smoking as a result of ongoing advertising on the harmful effects of smoking.”

Ealing Council may cut the borough's Stop Smoking service next year(Image: PA)

If the services are cut next year, Ealing Council suggests residents hoping to stop smoking will have to access alternative resources and support through GPs, pharmacies, the NHS and charity resources.

However, according to One You Ealing Stop Smoking Service, smoking prevalence in the borough remains at 15.4% compared to 15.5% nationally.

The council-funded service saw 3947 clients in 2015/16 and 3719 the following year, with a total of 4291 clients new to the service during that period.

'Smokefree Ealing is an invaluable service'

Speaking after the council's announcement, Raminta Astrauskaite, a specialist at NHS Smokefree Ealing, said the proposals by Ealing Council are simply “looking at short-term savings and not the future”.

“Smokefree Ealing is an invaluable service,” Ms Astrauskaite told getwestlondon .

“It is the most cost-effective service and residents will end up paying much more for treatment of diseases caused by smoking, such as cancer, in several years.

“If this service is cut, people wanting to stop smoking in Ealing will no longer be able to receive the one-to-one intense support that is currently provided.

“This will have a negative effect on smoking levels in the borough – the prevalence definitely won't get any lower and it might even increase.”

“Smokefree Ealing is an invaluable service”(Image: PA)

She added: "This decline [in smoking prevalence] was our aim and what we worked hard at over the years.

"We have promoted and advertised harmful effects of smoking, our service trained most healthcare professionals in Ealing to raise awareness of smoking harm and supportsmokers."

The consultation on proposals to cut Stop Smoking services in Ealing will run until 23 April 2018. You can read the full consultation document here or complete a survey on the proposals here.

An event to discuss the proposal will take place on March 21 from 1-3pm at Ealing Town Hall.

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