Budget slashed as plans to launch digital stop smoking service approved in Sandwell
A DIGITAL hub to help smokers kick the habit is set to be launched after councillors agreed to slash its health budget.
Smokers in Sandwell wanting to 'do it alone' could soon be offered self-help online after councillors agreed to re-commission its Stop Smoking service.
It comes after cabinet members gave the go-ahead to proposals to cut its stop smoking budget by £360,000 and search for a new bidder to deliver the service.
Councillor Elaine Costigan, Sandwell council's cabinet member for public health and protection, said: "Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the UK, and smoking cessation remains a key priority areas for Sandwell council public health.
"A report to the cabinet highlights the reducing prevalence of smoking and the impact of electronic cigarettes leading to less people accessing traditional smoking cessation services.
"The proposed adjustments to the budget for the Stop Smoking service reflect a need to correct-size the allocation for this particular service.
"However, the new service will target hard-to-reach groups where smoking prevalence continues to remain high.
"We will also develop a digital self-help offer to reach those who don't access traditional services."
The Stop Smoking service will be re-commissioned when the current contract comes to an end next April, councillors agreed on Wednesday.
Council officers proposed remodelling the service after a drop in the number of smokers in the borough by 13,000 over the past five years.
The percentage of adult smokers fell from almost 23 per cent to 19 per cent over the five years, but is still higher than the national average of 15.5 per cent.
It meant councillors wanted to cut its existing budget from £810,000 to £450,000 to better reflect spending on the service.
A report to the cabinet said: "There is the need to ‘correct size’ the stop smoking service target for the number of smokers to be treated annually in view of the actual number achieved in the last three years compared to target.
"The current model does not take into account that some smokers may not need full specialist support to quit. It also does not take fully into account the use of electronic cigarettes which have now become very popular and are proving to be a very effective tool in smoking cessation."