When Andrew was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer, he was a 40-a-day smoker.
Now, two years on, his cancer is under control. And he’s ditched the cigarettes.
“The moment I received that diagnosis, I knew I had to stop smoking,” he tells us. And it was NHS Stop Smoking Services that helped Andrew get there.
But we have a solution. The tobacco industry makes more than £4,000 in profits for every death caused by smoking. And we think that by holding it to account for this financially, Stop Smoking Services can be given the investment they need, to make sure everyone who wants to use them, can do so.
So today we’re launching a new campaign, asking the Government to make Big Tobacco Cough Up and pay for the damage it causes.
And you can help us by signing our petition and making sure your voice is heard.
But why is this so important?
Why should we protect Stop Smoking Services?
Stop Smoking Services provide both prescription medication (including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)) and specialist behavioural support. This combined approach roughly triples smokers’ chances of successfully stopping compared to going it alone. And research has shown these services are the most effective way of ditching the habit for good.
“My GP helped put me in touch with my local Stop Smoking Services and they were absolutely brilliant,” says Andrew.
“I signed up for 12 weeks and saw a really helpful lady, face-to-face, every week. I stopped smoking two weeks into the sessions and have never looked back.
“I can really notice the difference since quitting – and that was two years ago.”
Saving money and promoting a healthier life
Andrew’s story is just one of thousands illustrating the transformative effect Stop Smoking Services can have on peoples’ lives. But they are also extremely cost-effective.
Evidence shows that every £1 spent on these services saves around £10 in healthcare costs and health gains in the long term. This is because the NHS won’t have to spend as much treating tobacco-related illnesses’, and fewer people will suffer from smoking-related illness’, leading to fewer smoking-related sick days and lost productivity.
But it also costs money to help people quit. And it isn’t just about services.
Advertising campaigns like Stoptober are really successful at encouraging people to quit. Public Health England, which is responsible for running campaigns like Stoptober, has had its funding for mass media campaigns cut by central government. And while the quality has remained consistent, we think the number of tobacco media campaigns is not at an acceptable level.
Evidence shows that advertising campaigns are only effective if they are well-funded, but the UK is currently spending eight times less than the recommended amount.
We can’t allow this trend to continue.
And that’s why we also think that tobacco companies should be footing this bill too.
So what can we do to protect these services?
The tobacco industry makes billions in profits every year from its deadly products. By simply charging the industry around 1p per cigarette they sell in the UK, this could inject an extra £500m into public health services and mass media quit campaigns to help save thousands of lives.
In March, as part of the Budget, the Treasury will decide how the Government will spend its money for the next year. From today, we’re asking our supporters to sign a petition to ask Chancellor George Osborne to pass a law to make the tobacco industry pay for Stop Smoking Services and advertising campaigns to help people quit, meaning people like Andrew can access the help they want.
How you can help
The Government listens to us when we speak as one. And we know that petition campaigns work. Last year nearly 25,000 of you asked the Government to invest in services for diagnosing cancer earlier. And they responded with a commitment to invest £300m each year up to 2020.
So here’s how you can tell the Government you want to see Big Tobacco Cough Up:
- Take two minutes to add your name to our petition
- Ask your friends, family and colleagues to sign up too
- Spread the word on social media using our campaign hashtag #BigTobaccoCoughUp
The more signatures we get, the more pressure there is on Government to make the tobacco industry pay for the damage they cause.
“I smoked for most of my adult life and didn’t think I’d ever give up, but thanks to Stop Smoking service I did. I’m pretty sure I would not have been able to do it on my own,” says Andrew.
“These services are vital and I’m fully behind Cancer Research UK’s campaign to get the tobacco industry to cough up.”
Will you join him in making a stand?
Katy Ashford is a campaigning officer at Cancer Research UK