Harrow Council will bring back its stop smoking service after it was visited by Public Health England’s chief executive.

The government body’s leader Duncan Selbie pointed out the health benefits and long-term financial benefit when he met with council representatives and local health bosses in January.

The council’s health and wellbeing board confirmed that it will sign-up to an information portal covering London and will appoint an advisor who will work three days a week.

There is also money set aside to join up with a neighbouring borough for stop smoking support during pregnancy.

Collaborating with Brent was mentioned, given the position of cross-border Northwick Park Hospital.

Sally Cartwright, a consultant on public health at Harrow Council, explained that additional money has become available thanks to savings across other services.

Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council, said it was important to make use of this extra funding and monitor the scheme’s effectiveness going forward.

He said: “This is a preventative measure that will stop problems further down the line.

“There are a number of other things that we can’t afford to do – if we were properly funded, we’d do a lot more.

“So, when there’s something we can do, we need to make sure that it’s effective and we understand the success rate.”

The decision to reintroduce a stop smoking programme was roundly supported by the board, with Cllr Simon Brown, who is responsible for adults and public health at Harrow Council, describing it as “the best buy in public health”.

Carole Furlong, director of public health at Harrow Council, explained that extra attention will be given to vulnerable groups, including those with mental health issues and pregnant women.

She added that while encouraging young people to avoid smoking is important, and is promoted in schools, specific programmes are expensive to run.

At nine per cent, Harrow has the lowest prevalence of smokers in London. But the board agreed that it remains an important issue and noted the potential of cessation services.