Fewer people giving up smoking despite rise in NHS spending

In collaboration with the Press Association

The number of people giving up smoking has fallen despite a rise in the amount spent on NHS Stop Smoking Services, new figures show.

A total of 133,704 people successfully gave up smoking for a minimum of four weeks between April and September 2008 - down 24 per cent from 176,277 for the same period in 2007.

However, the report - which was published on Tuesday (January 20th) by the NHS Information Centre - notes that the 2007 period straddled the July introduction of the smoking ban in England, when quit rates were exceptionally high.

- Elspeth Lee, head of tobacco control, Cancer Research UK

Figures for 2008 show that the number of quitters, while down on the previous year, is still higher than for the same period in 2006, when just 128,868 people successfully kicked the habit.

However, they are still somewhat concerning considering the NHS increased its spending on Stop Smoking Services from million between April and September 2007 to million for the same period in 2008.

This means that the cost per successful quitter has increased from in 2007 to in 2008.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, commented: "The report shows the NHS is spending more than ever to support people to quit through its Stop Smoking Services.

"The numbers who kicked the habit in April to September 2008 were substantially lower than in 2007 when the smoking ban came in. However, they were still higher than the same period in 2006, which was a more typical year to compare them with."

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, said: "Stop smoking services are highly cost-effective and must continue to receive adequate financial investment. We know these services improve a person's chances of successfully giving up cigarettes.

"And every person who quits helps to reduce the billion cost of smoking-related diseases to the NHS," she added.

The 2008 figures also provide an insight into success rate trends, including the observation that the likelihood of success tends to increase with age. While just 33 per cent of under-18s managed to quit, this figure rose to 57 per cent of over-60s.

Among those who set a date to give up on, two thirds received nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) alone; 21 per cent received varenicline (Champix) only; two per cent were given bupropion only; and four per cent did not receive any kind of pharmacotherapy.

The figures reveal that 61 per cent of people on varenicline succeeded in giving up smoking, compared with 50 per cent of bupropion users, 46 per cent of NRT users and 49 per cent of those who did not receive pharmacotherapy.