Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

More smokers trying to quit habit

The number of people trying to quit smoking via NHS services has roughly trebled in the last decade, figures show

The number of people trying to quit smoking via NHS services has roughly trebled in the last decade but success rates have fallen, figures show.

In 2010/11, there were almost 788,000 "quit dates" set with NHS stop smoking services, with almost 384,000 successful attempts. In 2001/02, there were just 227,000 quit dates set and fewer than 120,000 successful attempts.

People may be successful on their first try, or can set further quit dates throughout the year if their first attempt fails.

The overall success rate is now 49%, the same as the previous year, but down on the 53% recorded in 2001/02, according to the data from the NHS Information Centre. People are counted as successful quitters if they are still not smoking four weeks after their quit date.

The new report showed the total amount spent on England's NHS stop smoking services in 2010/11 was £84.3 million, almost £500,000 more than in the previous year and almost £60 million more than a decade ago. It also reveals that 22% of men and 20% of women are current smokers, roughly the same as in previous years.

Those who are divorced or separated are around twice as likely to smoke heavily (more than 20 a day) as those who are single or married/cohabiting. Some 12% of divorced or separated people smoke heavily compared to just 6% of singles and 5% of those living with a partner.

The number of current smokers is highest in London (26%) and the North West (24%), and lowest in the East Midlands and South West (19%).

A spokesman for the Department of Health said smoking was one of the biggest challenges in public health.

"A record number of people have stopped smoking which is a testament to the excellent work of NHS professionals in local stop smoking services.

"The latest figures show that the percentage of adults who smoke has not changed since 2007 and over 80,000 people still die in England each year from smoking-related diseases. So we must go further to reduce smoking rates. That's why in March we published our plans to help drive down smoking rates and reduce the harms from tobacco over the next five years."

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