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Councils urged to review funding of anti-tobacco campaign group

Thu 31st March, 2016

Forest has urged local councils in the North West to review their funding of a regional anti-tobacco campaign group.

Following the announcement (31 March) that Tobacco Free Futures, formerly Smokefree North West, is to rename itself Healthier Futures so it can address other public health issues, the smokers' group Forest has questioned the group's function and the use of public money to fund its activities.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "Whatever name they use, what purpose does Healthier Futures serve?

"During a time of severe financial pressure councils cannot afford to fund yet another campaign group lecturing people about the risks of smoking, drinking and obesity, and nor should they be expected to."

The rebranding of Tobacco Free Futures follows a similar initiative by another anti-tobacco group, Smokefree South West. In November the Bristol-based group became Public Health Action. In February however the group announced that it was to close after eleven councils withdrew funding.

According to Clark:

"Figures show the use of stop smoking services in England and Wales has fallen by over 50 per cent since 2010.

"Anti-smoking groups are rebranding and embracing other public health issues because they are desperate to find new reasons to justify their existence.

"But why should local councils fund regional campaign groups when we already have high profile bodies such as Action on Smoking and Health, Alcohol Concern, Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Public Health England, to name a few?

"Councils should review their funding of Healthier Futures, and the sooner the better."


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