In ASH Daily News of 20 October 2017 there appears a commentary on a report lamenting recent cuts to local authority stop smoking budgets. Ms Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy at ASH, has this to say:
Without high quality local services in place vulnerable groups of smokers, such as pregnant women or smokers needing surgery, risk being left to go it alone. The responsibility for this must be shared between local and national government.
Every word in this statement attests to a lamentable lack of understanding of the smoking problem and how to deal with it.
All smokers are vulnerable – to the harmful, often lethal, effects of smoking. I suppose Ms Cheeseman is especially concerned about these particular groups because the harmful effects of their smoking are likely to make themselves felt within weeks or months rather than after the years or decades it may take for ordinary smokers to become ill or die as a result of their cigarette addiction.
But with the current absurd situation where cigarettes are on open sale everywhere, it’s not enough, apparently, just to try and discourage people from buying them. There’s much wringing of hands by the likes of Ms Cheeseman that these particular vulnerable smokers are at risk of being ‘left to go it (quit) alone.’
So the responsibility of these smokers to quit lies not just with the individuals concerned but with local and national government.
And how is it that local and national government finds itself in the embarrassing position of being accused of not living up to its responsibilities? It’s because ‘an increasing number of authorities [are] making cuts to stop smoking budgets.’
If only there were enough money to go around so that local and national government could fund stop smoking budgets to its heart’s content! Could we anticipate, in such a case, that stop smoking services, staffed by highly skilled counsellors offering the latest in stop smoking aids including e-cigarettes, would be available around the clock on every high street in the cities and towns of Britain? And if this fantasy were to become true, would we see droves of smoking pregnant women and smokers needing surgery queuing up to be cured of their addiction or at any rate being offered a hoped-for less harmful way of continuing their addiction?
Pregnant or in need or an operation and think you can’t stop smoking? Don’t worry – it’s not your fault! It’s the fault of local and national government for not funding stop smoking services enough!
The fact is, whatever the availability of stop smoking services and no matter what stop smoking ‘aids’ may be offered, the individual smoker has to make the decision – and stick to it – not to smoke ever again, or at least not to smoke until the baby is born or the operation is over. And they have to do this on their own.
Text © Gabriel Symonds