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Councils must prioritise help for local businesses not stop smoking services

Campaigners say councils should prioritise help for local businesses not stop smoking services.

The comments were in response to a survey by the anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) that found that ‘within a month of lockdown, most councils had services in place to help smokers quit.’

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “Stop smoking services are not a priority when local businesses are desperately in need of help.

“Long before the Covid-19 pandemic the smoking cessation industry experienced a dramatic fall in numbers as an increasing number of smokers switched voluntarily to vaping without the need for a stop smoking advisor.

“Promoting or increasing the number of stop smoking services now would be inappropriate when there are far bigger priorities, like helping local businesses get back on their feet.”

He added: “Urging smokers to ‘quit for Covid’ is not just bossy, it’s unhelpful when many smokers find smoking a pleasure and a comfort at this difficult time.

“Even Public Health England admits that the evidence on smoking and coronavirus ‘is mixed and developing‘ [29 May 2020]. It is quite wrong therefore for anti-smoking campaigners to exploit Covid-19 to further their smoke-free agenda.”

Simon Clark

Mission & Vision



Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.


Our key aims and objectives are to:

  • counteract the “denormalisation” of smoking, and smokers
  • prevent further restrictions on the purchase and consumption of tobacco
  • establish closer links with other tobacco-friendly groups at home and abroad
  • build support among consumers of tobacco and other similarly threatened groups
  • highlight the increasingly intrusive nature of Big Government in the lives of private individuals