NHS Stop Smoking Services help record number to quit

In collaboration with Adfero

NHS Stop Smoking Services helped 373,954 people to quit smoking during 2009-10 - a higher number than ever before.

Of the 757,537 people who set a quit date with the help of the services during the year, 49 per cent had successfully kicked the habit at their four-week follow-up.

This represents an 11 per cent increase on the previous year, when 337,054 used the free services to successfully quit, and is the highest number ever recorded for a single year.

The service as a whole cost just less than £83.9 million and the cost per quitter was £224.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, which published the figures, said: "The report shows NHS Stop Smoking Services are helping more people than ever before to quit and that they are using a number of means of offering support.

"With smoking attributed to so many hospital admissions among those who are 35 and over, it is important that people get the support they need to quit in order to remain as healthy as possible."

According to the report, the most commonly used method of support for those attempting to give up smoking in 2009-10 was nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum.

Nearly two-thirds of all service users (65 per cent) used this method alone when trying to quit. Of these, nearly half (47 per cent) were successful in their attempt.

A drug called Varenicline was used by 23 per cent of smokers, 60 per cent of whom successfully gave up. The drug works by reducing cravings and decreasing the pleasurable effects of tobacco.

Another drug called Bupropion, which reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms, was used on its own by one per cent of people using the NHS services. Of these, 50 per cent successfully quit.

Meanwhile, the success rate for smokers who did not use any form of pharmacotherapy was 49 per cent.

The report also shows that more women than men set a date to stop smoking in 2009-10, but the success rate was slightly higher among men (51 per cent) than in women (48 per cent).

Worryingly, of the 20,808 pregnant women who tried to stop smoking, just 9,414 (45 per cent) managed to stub out their cigarettes for good.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, described the figures as "very good news" for ex-smokers, public health and the NHS, and noted that the cost of helping people to quit represented "great value for money in the long term".

She revealed: "Seven out of ten smokers would like to quit and their chances of success are four times greater if they use the services rather than going it alone. We would encourage all smokers trying to quit to seek support from their GP, pharmacy or their local NHS Stop Smoking Service.

"We urge the government to maintain these local services and we hope that they will also be able to reinstate the media campaigns that encourage people to attend them, as together they create a supportive environment for smokers choosing to quit."