Figures show rise in people quitting cigarettes

In collaboration with the Press Association

The NHS Stop Smoking Service is more in demand than ever with large numbers of people keen to give up smoking, new figures show.

Statistics reveal that, between April and September 2007, around 165,000 people quit smoking, representing an increase of 28 per cent compared to the same period in 2006. Produced by the NHS Stop Smoking Service, the figures record the number of smokers who had successfully given up at the four-week follow up interview.

The increase in quitters has coincided with the introduction of smokefree legislation in England on July 1st 2007.

At the time, health secretary Alan Johnson described the move as "the single most important public health legislation for a generation" and claimed that thousands of lives would be saved as a result of a new, smoke-free England.

The government has now welcomed the latest figures, which also reveal a notable increase in the number of calls made to the Stop Smoking Hotline since the Department of Health's 'Getting Off Cigarettes' campaign was launched at the end of December 2007.

Between December 26th 2007 and January 13th 2008, nearly 73,000 smokers visited the campaign website and around 9,000 people called the NHS helpline for advice on how to kick the habit.

In addition, nearly 13,000 people requested an information pack via text message or interactive TV and more than 25,000 were sent free 'Get Support' DVDs to inform them of available support services.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo commented: "It's great news that so many smokers have been able to quit, preventing serious health problems and complications.

"It's not easy to overcome a nicotine addiction so it's clear that the NHS Stop Smoking Service is providing a vital service. And these figures are confirmation that the £56 million we invested into the service last year was money well spent."

Cancer Research UK welcomed the figures, noting that smokers are four times more likely to quit successfully if they have support.

The charity's head of tobacco control, Elspeth Lee, said: "We know that the majority of smokers want to give up and the introduction of smokefree workplaces across England last year, whilst also protecting people from secondhand smoke, is likely to have helped some smokers to quit.

"But with about ten million smokers in the UK - half of whom will die from a smoking-related disease - we cannot be complacent," she continued.

"We need the government's continued commitment to reducing smoking rates and we welcome their proposed consultation on the next steps in tobacco control later this year."