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New stop smoking strategy to be agreed by Cabinet

7 February 2017

It’s Sheffield’s biggest killer, claiming the lives of around 16 people a week.

And now a new stop smoking strategy is set to be agreed by Sheffield City Council’s cabinet committee, in a bid to create a smoke-free city where people live longer and healthier lives, where children think smoking is unusual, and where young people don’t take up smoking in the first place.

The strategy, set to be agreed at a meeting on Wednesday 15 February, will involve keeping the budget for tobacco control at £1.1m, but moving some of the money from stop smoking services into prevention work.

This approach was supported by a public consultation, in which 82 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of more smoking prevention work in schools and 64 per cent said they were in favour of increased smokefree public spaces.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “Smoking is still the biggest killer, the biggest burden to public health and a major cause of health inequalities.

“We want to reduce smoking prevalence in line with other world leaders in this area. Places such as New York, California and Australia, for example, have implemented extensive tobacco control programmes and as a result have seen impressive reductions in their smoking prevalence compared to England.

“In order to do this we need to build on what is already in place and fund a wide-ranging tobacco control programme that focuses on prevention, policy measures and quitting.

“We have reviewed what is needed locally, as well as the evidence as to what really works when it comes to helping people to stop smoking – and preventing them from starting in the first place.

“Unfortunately, since 2015 there have been reductions in the level of funding available for local authorities to spend on public health. Therefore we are unable to fund everything to the level we would like, and need to prioritise interventions that will deliver the largest public health benefit.”

Although good progress is being made on tackling tobacco, there are still around 79,200 people who smoke in Sheffield – and figures suggest five children take up smoking every day.

The public health budget for tobacco control in Sheffield is £1.1m and, currently, approximately 60 per cent of this budget funds stop smoking services and 40 per cent funds wider tobacco control work.

At next week’s meeting, the cabinet committee is set to agree to move £220,000 from stop smoking services into evidence-based prevention work. As well as rolling out work in schools, this money would go towards increasing the number of outdoor smoke-free sites and events, and increasing the investment in communication and media campaigns targeting those who find it the most difficult to quit.

This comes after the release of the city council’s innovative “You Can Leave Your Patch On” video, which has already racked up more than 200,000 views across social media since being launched less than a month ago.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w64UOCfvlH0

Stop smoking services will focus on screening, prevention, cessation, and harm reduction. These services will be targeted to those most vulnerable to the health harms of tobacco and groups who smoke the most.

These groups include routine and manual workers – who were targeted through the You Can Leave Your Patch On campaign – and pregnant women. In Sheffield, 12.5 per cent of pregnant women currently smoke at the time their baby is born.

Trying to reduce this figure will involve working with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ Jessop Wing, to increase the number of women who access support via the specialist midwifery stop smoking service.

Under the new prevention strategy, a pilot scheme would also run in primary schools, with year five and six children, rather than just working in secondary schools.

This approach is strongly supported by the Sheffield Tobacco Control Programme Board, which says it is “very concerned” about the initiation into smoking of very young children, in some areas of the city with the highest smoking prevalence.

Sheffield City Council will also continue to tackle the trade in cheap and illicit tobacco, which brings organised crime into communities, introduces young people into smoking and keeps existing smokers in addiction.


  • What have we done so far – and what do we want to do next?
    • During the last three years we have worked with 10 secondary schools in areas of high smoking prevalence delivering a smoking prevention programme. We want to work with all 26 secondary schools in the city to equip children with the skills to resist starting to smoke. We are also keen to develop a smoking prevention programme for primary schools.
    • The majority of people begin smoking as a teenager – 67% before age 18 and 84% by age 19.
    • Sheffield City Council and partners have implemented a range of smoke-free policies in order to change social norms around smoking in Sheffield. For example, in July 2016 we implemented a citywide smoke-free playground policy.
    • We know that children learn the smoking habit from observing their parents and others, so we want to reduce the number of public places where people are visibly smoking.
    • We want to increase the number of outdoor smokefree sites across the city including outside NHS buildings, hospitals, universities, council buildings, sport and leisure centres, and at events.
    • Evidence suggests a very effective way of motivating smokers to quit is by developing mass media campaigns that smokers can relate to, using targeted messages about the reasons to quit.
    • Public Health England runs national campaigns such as Stoptober and Health Harms annually which prompt significant amount of population quits. However we would like to deliver more local targeted campaigns – such as You Can Leave Your Patch On
    • Since 2003 we have had a stop smoking service that anyone can access and we have supported around 3,000 smokers a year to quit. From 2010 local demand for stop smoking support has reduced. This has happened alongside increasing popularity and use of e-cigarettes – more people are also choosing to quit on their own.
    • We want to promote the use of e-cigarettes responsibly to help smokers to quit or reduce smoking, whilst acknowledging that e-cigarettes are not entirely without risk, and monitor ongoing impact and evidence. This is consistent with national guidance.