NHS Stop Smoking Services help 337,000 more smokers to quit

In collaboration with the Press Association

A total of 337,054 people successfully gave up smoking in 2008/09 with support from NHS Stop Smoking Services, a new report has revealed.

Figures published by the NHS Information Centre show that 671,259 people set a quit date through the services in 2008/09.

This figure is slightly down on the 2007/08 figure of 680,289, which was boosted by the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places, but is still 12 per cent higher than the 2006/07 figure of 600,410.

The proportion of people who had successfully quit by their four-week follow-up has also risen by five per cent since 2006/07.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, commented: "The report shows that fewer people successfully quit last year compared to 2007/08. However, 2007/08 saw the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places which would be expected to affect the number of quitters in that year.

"It is encouraging that more people quit smoking last year than in 2006/07, the year prior to the ban."

NHS Stop Smoking Services cost £74 million to run in 2008/09, which is 44 per cent higher than in 2006/07.

This means that the average cost per quitter was £219 compared with £160 in 2006/07, not including money spent on smoking cessation drugs and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Over two thirds of people who set a quit date only received NRT, while 20 per cent took varenicline (Champix), two per cent were given bupropion (Zyban) and less than one per cent used both NRT and bupropion.

Five per cent of people who attempted to give up did not receive any kind of drug treatment.

The proportion of pregnant women who quit smoking last year was 12 per cent lower than in 2007/08, with just 46 per cent of mums-to-be who set a quit date managing to stay off cigarettes.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, said that the NHS Stop Smoking Service has continued to help smokers quit.

She noted that, while the number of people who have successfully given up has fallen slightly, "the service has been invaluable in ensuring lives will be saved in the future".

"The majority of smokers want to quit. The services play an important role and represent excellent value for money so it is vital that investing in the services remains a priority. Helping people quit now means less costly treatment in years to come.

"The smoking ban has encouraged many people to give up, and we must continue to support those who are ready to quit. We must also work harder to stop young people from starting to smoke, which is why we are calling for the removal of cigarette displays in shops as well as vending machines."