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ICSs to lead on NHS’ smoking prevention

ICSs to lead on NHS’ smoking prevention
By Jess Hacker
11 April 2023

Integrated care systems (ICSs) will be expected to develop tobacco control programmes and take a lead in turning the NHS into a national smoking prevention service, the Government has said.

It comes as part of the Government’s new national ‘smoke free’ scheme, which will also see current smokers offered vapes to help them quit.

Announcing the plan at a Policy Exchange event today (11 April), primary care minister Neil O’Brien said integrated care boards (ICBs) must develop effective tobacco control programmes with their local authorities to achieve greater prevention.

He pointed to Humber and North Yorkshire ICB’s scheme – launching this month – to provide vapes as a ‘quit aid’ to smokers and to reduce the number of pregnant people currently smoking.

Mr O’Brien said: ‘The pioneering work being done by the Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board – is leading the way in devoting local health service resources, organising the local system to have a local voice in driving down smoking rates in their most deprived communities.

‘In April – this month – they will ‘go live’ with their comprehensive tobacco control program. They will go first in implementing many of our national plans, including the provision of incentives for pregnant women to stop smoking, providing vapes as a first line quit aid in local stop smoking services, lung health screening and joining up local services to tackle illicit tobacco.’

The prevention drive falls in line with Patricia Hewitt’s newly published ICS review, which set out that the systems would be assessed on their prevention work.

The Government’s new national smoking plan will also see one million smokers in England encouraged to swap cigarettes for vaping using a free ‘vape starter kit’.

The vape starter kit will be accompanied by ‘behavioural support’ to help smokers quit, with local authorities given the flexibility to decide which of their populations to target.

The measures are part of the Government’s ambition to be ‘smoke-free’ by 2030 by reducing smoking rates to 5% or less and will also see pregnant people offered £400 to quit.

This will be accompanied by a ‘crack-down’ on sales of vapes to underage children, with a consultation launched today to determine how best to reduce the number of children who vape, and to identify how vape products are marketed and presented via social media.

There will also be £3m in new funding for a specialised ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ intended to combat illegal and underage vape sales.

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