NHS Stop Smoking Services save 70,000 lives in ten years

In collaboration with the Press Association

New figures reveal that NHS Stop Smoking Services have saved at least 70,000 lives in the ten years that they have been in existence.

Research shows that smokers are more likely to successfully quit if they seek help. NHS Stop Smoking Services provide a combination of behavioural support and access to medicines that can be beneficial.

According to the Department of Health, the number of people whose lives have been saved since the free service was set up in 1999 could fill Old Trafford football stadium or 875 double-decker buses.

Smoking prevalence has fallen from 28 per cent to below 21 per cent over the past ten years and the NHS Stop Smoking Services have played a key role.

Public health minister Gillian Merron said that she is "proud" of the achievement.

"Every life saved represents a battle against an addiction - a triumph for the individual and their family," she remarked.

"Stopping smoking is hard, but thanks to free local NHS Stop Smoking Services, you are up to four times more likely to succeed."

Anna Fairhurst, service manager at Brighton and Hove Stop Smoking Services, has been helping people to quit for over 15 years.

She revealed: "Smoking in England has changed so much in the last ten years. A decade ago there were very few services to help people stop. Now the majority of GPs run stop smoking services as well as a large number of pharmacies.

"Smokers who seek support to quit should not only be helped but praised for their efforts."

England now has more than 150 local NHS Stop Smoking Services, which can be accessed at GP practices, community sports and leisure centres, workplaces, dental practices, pharmacists and children's centres.

Some two million people have successfully quit after contacting their local service over the last ten years.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, said: "Smoking is an incredibly difficult habit to break and it's one that will kill half of all long-term smokers.

"England leads the world in providing free stop smoking services and the NHS Stop Smoking Services are to be congratulated for what they've achieved. They provide vital support for those who are ready to quit and after ten years they've helped save thousands of lives. We encourage all smokers to seek support to help them successfully quit."