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Smoking cessation

Number of smokers using NHS services to quit halves, report finds

There were 400,000 successful quit attempts through the NHS Stop Smoking Service in 2011–2012 but this is likely to drop to 200,000 in 2014–2015.

he number of smokers who have quit smoking through the NHS Stop Smoking Service is projected to halve this year in England. In the image, a teenager receives information on smoking cessation products

Source: BSIP SA / Alamy

The number of smokers who have quit smoking through the NHS Stop Smoking Service is projected to halve in England in 2014–2015

The number of smokers who have quit smoking through the NHS Stop Smoking Service is projected to halve in England in 2014–2015, according to a report[1] published by the UCL School of Pharmacy.

The decline has coincided with the NHS reorganisation in 2013 and insufficient investment in advertising for the service, the report says, which was launched at an event in London on 4 March 2015.

In the year 2011–2012, there were 400,000 successful quit attempts using the service but this number is likely to drop to just over 200,000 people in 2014–2015, the reports estimates.

Overall, there has been a decrease in the number of people using the service to help them quit smoking, which peaked at 800,000 and is now set to sit at just over 400,000. The report was commissioned by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB), which lobbies on behalf of OTC pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Robert West, professor of health psychology at UCL, told the meeting he thought the service has become a “casualty of the NHS reorganisation”.

When the NHS reforms came into place in 2013, the money allocated for public health moved from the now-defunct Primary Care Trusts to local authorities, at a time when local authorities’ budgets were being “hammered”, said West.

“Even though the public health budget was supposed to be ring-fenced, there is fluidity in what is defined as public health,” he said, adding that it was “a delusion” to think that the money would remain separate.

“Luckily e-cigarettes have picked up some of the slack, although they are not as effective as the stop smoking service,” he added. He estimates that e-cigarettes contributed an additional 20,000 successful quit attempts in 2014. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068044

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