Mental health and addiction services run by Kent County Council are to be slashed after the government confirmed a £4.5m grant cut.
Dozens of schemes will be hit including drug and alcohol support, stop smoking courses and mental health programmes.
Also affected are sexual health services and schemes to help curb childhood obesity and improve physical fitness.
One of the main casualties is KCC’s programme for tackling health inequalities, which will see its funding pared back by £1.5m from £6.5m.
“These cuts are counter-productive and are short-term measures that in the long term would save the country money. They help people stop smoking – the kind of thing that cuts admissions to hospitals” - Cllr Trudy Dean, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on KCC
Critics say the government is storing up problems for the future by cutting preventative schemes that stop people needing hospital treatment.
One of the biggest cuts is to drug and alcohol services – £698,000 from its £15.9m budget.
Adult mental health services are losing £145,000 from £2.5m; programmes to help people stop smoking are to be cut by £474,000 from £3.4m; and sexual health services – including reducing teenage pregnancies – are being slashed by £292,000 from £13.7m.
The reductions come from a total social care, health and wellbeing budget of £71,3m, and also include smaller cuts to other services.
Cllr Graham Gibbens, KCC cabinet member for adult social care, said the council was focusing more sharply on where money could be spent effectively.
“I would never welcome reductions in funding and of course I would like more [money],” he said. “What we want to do is target inequality in poorer areas.
"When [responsibility for] public health was passed to councils, it was a real opportunity to get other organisations to see how we could do the same, if not better, with less money.
“What we need to do now is focus on key target areas and I believe we can do more for less.”
Cllr Trudy Dean, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on KCC, said: “These cuts are counter-productive and are short-term measures that in the long term would save the country money.
"They help people stop smoking – the kind of thing that cuts admissions to hospitals.”
Cllr Mike Eddy, Labour spokesman, said: “All of these cuts will end up causing all sorts of problems down the line. The only options are to increase council tax or increase charges.”
KCC had lobbied the government not to slice grants but ministers decided to apply an ‘across the board’ cut to all councils.
Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his Autumn Statement that he’s slashing public health budgets by £200m this year as part of the drive to cut public debt.
Councils are critical because they have been asked to make cuts this year rather than build them into next year’s budgets.
According to Kent County Council’s own three-year public health plan, preventative health programmes ultimately saves the Kent taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds.
For every teenage pregnancy avoided, there is a £400,000 saving in extra costs to the taxpayer in health, benefits and tax from earnings.
Every smoker who quits will save £2,000 a year.
In its report “Mind the Gap” published in 2012, the council acknowledged “a highly significant correlation” between deprivation and life expectancy and the gap was widening in Kent.
Life expectancy for men in Thanet, for example, is 12 years less than the life expectancy for men in less deprived areas.