To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health and the Interim Director of Public Health, and to consider and endorse or make recommendations to the Cabinet Member on the proposed decision to extend the current contract with Kent Community Health NHS Trust to deliver the smoking cessation service until 31 March 2016.
Dr F Khan, Consultant in Public Health, was in attendance for this item, and
Ms K Sharp, Head of Public Health Commissioning, was in attendance for this and the following items.
1. Dr Khan introduced the report and explained that it was proposed that the existing contract for the smoking cessation service be extended to 31 March 2016.
2. She responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-
a) one speaker asked why the contract was being extended despite existing targets not being met. Dr Khan explained that the target, which was prescribed by the Department of Health, did not allow a longer quit period for those smokers for whom the habit was so entrenched that quitting would inevitably take longer. In extending the contract, and in future commissioning, it would be made clear that other targets, such as reduced dosage of tobacco, abstinence and quitting needed to be considered, andthat the current target was considered to be no longer fit for purpose. The target also did not take account of deprivation factors; it was known that smokers living in areas of deprivation tended to find it harder to give up;
b) another speaker added that most smokers who would find it easier to quit were likely to have already done so; the next challenge was to tackle smokers for whom the habit was more entrenched;
c) the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority was a trusted service that was viewed as friendly and accessible, and this popular image could be used to spread advice about the dangers of smoking, in term of the risk of home fires. This would be an alternative way to tackle the issue, with the health benefits being a welcome side effect;
d) one speaker suggested that the reason why Kent was behind on its smoking quit target was that cheap cigarettes were so easily available across the county, having been imported via Kent’s ports; and
e) recent community health events and publicity had suggested that the most successful way to give up smoking was the use of e.cigarettes. Perhaps the County Council’s current stance, that e.cigarettes were not a reliable way to give up, should be reviewed. It was important that the usefulness and potential contribution of e.cigarettes to smoking quits was clearly understood. Dr Khan explained that new research on this issue was due soon, but the current view was that they were useful as long as they were used as a step to giving up smoking. She added that part of the reason that the targets for quits had not been reached was that smokers were switching to e.cigarettes instead of accessing smoking cessation services.
3. The Cabinet Member, Mr Gibbens, thanked Members for their comments and undertook to take account of them when taking the decision.
4. RESOLVED that:-
a) the decision proposed to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, to extend the contract with Kent Community Health Trust for the smoking cessation service to 31st March 2016, after taking account of this committee’s comments, be endorsed; and
b) the timeline for tendering the service be agreed.