England has had a smoking ban and a very aggressive anti-smoking campaign in place since 2007, yet figures speak of the inefficiency of both in terms of convincing more people to give up the “cancer sticks.” Moreover, it has been recently revealed that the number of smokers has actually increased for certain age segments, which would show that the NHS was wrong in boosting funds for the initiative, critics say.
While the number of smokers went down for April-September 2008 by almost a quarter as compared with the same period of last year, when the ban was just introduced, several British media outlets are reporting that, overall, the situation looks unfavorable for the initiative. The Daily Mail informs that, in men aged 16-34, consumption has actually increased by one and a half cigarettes a day, whereas their number has also increased a bit.
Figures published by the NHS speak of a minor improvement for 2008, which, in itself, is not enough to warrant the many millions of pounds that the British government is investing in the Stop Smoking services. The number of quitters, for instance, fell down by 24 percent from 176,277 in 2007 to 133,704 last year, which translates into a boost of almost 65 percent of the amount that the NHS is paying for each successful quitter, from £148 to £244. As a side note, a successful quitter is considered to be the person who, four weeks after saying so, is still not smoking.
Critics of the initiative have already taken their grievances to the British media, especially in the context in which, for 2008, the NHS spent £33 million (up from £26 million) with the purpose of decreasing the risk of second-hand smoking and convincing people to kick their habit. “The nanny state is becoming more expensive and less effective by the day. The Government seems to love glossy advertising and expensive television adverts, but these figures show they are very ineffective. If the authorities stop heckling people so much, they might get a better reception.” Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers’ Alliance tells the Mail.
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo, however, is adamant that the initiative will continue as before, regardless of what the nay-sayers have to complain about. “NHS Stop Smoking Services remain extremely cost-effective. The Department of Health will continue to work hard to attract smokers to quit with NHS support. Smokers who use such support are four times more likely to succeed than those who try to quit by willpower alone.” Primarolo explains, as quoted by the same publication.