Around 3,300 people stopped smoking in Norfolk last year

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL File photo dated 12/03/13 of a man lighting a cigarette, as a new report said

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL File photo dated 12/03/13 of a man lighting a cigarette, as a new report said that the ban on smoking in public should be extended to pub gardens, school gates, parks and outdoor areas of restaurants. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 13, 2015. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said the ban, introduced in 2007, had "de-normalised" smoking and creating further exclusion zones would make the habit more inconvenient for smokers. See PA story HEALTH Smoking. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

More than half of people in Norfolk who tried to stop smoking managed to quit the habit last year, new figures show.

But the number of people who use NHS Stop Smoking services in the county has reduced from previous years by nearly 2,000 – and comes amid a rise in use of electronic cigarettes.

Dr Boaventura Rodrigues, a public health medicine consultant, said the county's success rate was 'in line with national expectation' and added there were several reasons for a reduction of people using NHS services to stop smoking. These include smokers switching to electronic cigarettes, quitters buying Nicotine replacement products over the counter, and people receiving medication from their GP, meaning they are not registered by the Stop Smoking service. The percentage of people who stopped smoking was higher in Norfolk than in neighbouring Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

There were 6,389 smokers in Norfolk who registered with NHS Stop Smoking services between April 2014 and March 2015, of which 3,395 reported quitting the habit. In Suffolk, 6,460 smokers signalled their intention to stop, with 3,136 managing to do so. Cambridgeshire saw 2,297 of 4,777 people stop smoking.

Dr Rodrigues said: 'A stop smoking service is considered effective if 50pc of people who set a quit date stop smoking within four weeks.'

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But in 2013/14 there were more than 23,000 smokers who tried to quit across the three counties, compared to 17,626 this year. The drop in smokers contacting NHS services follows a rise in use of e-cigarettes.

On Wednesday a Public Health England report claimed e-cigarettes were 95pc less harmful than tobacco.

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Dr Rodrigues said: 'We welcome the expert evidence review. We would support tighter regulations of these products because we know that there is a marked variation in quality.'

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