Rebecca Willans provided Members with a high level summary of the report and stated the Tobacco Control Joint Strategic Needs Assessment had been developed to gain an understanding of the scale and impact of tobacco use and harm in Thurrock, and the effectiveness of Thurrock’s current tobacco control strategy in addressing this. That the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment identified the harm and opportunities for improvement across the population; however, it had focused on priority groups where there was either higher smoking prevalence, such as people living in more deprived wards and people living with mental ill health, or groups where the health benefits of quitting smoking were greatest, such as women during pregnancy. The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment aimed to identify aspects of the current tobacco control strategy for Thurrock that were working well and areas where improvements could be made, especially to reduce tobacco related harm for priority groups.
Councillor Ralph thanked Rebecca Willans for the brilliant piece of work, the report was very comprehensive and had set a solid baseline for future works.
Councillor Holloway stated this was another brilliant report from the Public Health team. The report had been really well detailed and well evidenced and questioned how much money had been invested into the stop smoking programs and how long had these programs been in place. Rebecca Willans stated that since the last strategy, which had been some five years ago, Thurrock had a stop smoking service which had been adapted to see services now being brought in house and delivered by Thurrock Healthy Lifestyle Service. That improvements had been seen in terms of engagement of people with mental health and improvement following services being brought in house and offers of the Stop Smoking Service had been more diversified. There were two vape shops and pharmacies that offered stop smoking support. Councillor Holloway was informed that the services had been delivered with services being responded to and adopted over time and engagement with priority groups would continue to ensure the service offer meets their needs. Jo Broadbent stated she did not have an exact single figure to Councillor Holloway’s financial question but the in-house service was at a cost of over £200,000 per year, there were two vape shops in the area and had a variety of stop smoking support groups and that costs of external contracts were also around £200,000 per year.
Councillor Fish referenced the service that would involve peers and family members and asked for more details. Rebecca Willans stated this was one of the recommendations and as part of the needs assessment the evidence and research had been reviewed to identify what was more effective. That mass media communications would need to take place and to work with schools and existing structures to make sure that all children and young people get that message that smoking was not good and to work with households where parents smoke and target those services.
Councillor Fish questioned whether vaping was better than smoking as there were not so many harmful substances involved even though there was an element of nicotine in vaping. Rebecca Willans as earlier mentioned that most smokers would attempt to quit without support from the stop smoking services offered and there were currently an increase in smokers who were trying to quit through e-cigarettes so this approach was combining the most popular means of quitting with the most effective by including behavioural support. Jo Broadbent stated that risks with vaping were significantly lower than cigarette smoking.
Councillor Ralph referred to the report and questioned why the deprived areas were being targeted and not the non-deprived areas. Rebecca Willans stated that in Thurrock the offer of stop smoking services was open to every resident and the report recommended that this continued. The report identified that over the next five years was to target the resources to get things done differently in those more deprived wards. That half of the smokers would be living in those deprived wards and would experience poor health due to other factors linked to deprivation and to also focus on areas where we think can make the most gain. Councillor Ralph thanked Rebecca Willans again for a brilliant report and wished the team well in pushing this forward and to see some big changes coming.
That the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted and commented on the content and recommendations contained within the report.
Rebecca Willans left the meeting at 9.15pm.