Fewer than half of people who try to stop smoking succeed, figures reveal

Stock photo of a cigarette being smoked. Photo: Michael Crabtree

Stock photo of a cigarette being smoked. Photo: Michael Crabtree - Credit: PA

Fewer than half the people using the NHS Stop Smoking Service in Norfolk managed to quit, according to the latest figures.

In the 12 months from April 2017 to March this year, 5,605 people in Norfolk signed up with the NHS Stop Smoking Service and set themselves a date to quit.

At follow up meetings four weeks later 2,646 people said they had given up, according to data from NHS England.

That equated to 47pc, which is below the average rate for England of 51pc during the period. The average for the East of England was 55pc.

The success rate is based on self-reported results of people who said that they hadn't had a puff for two weeks since their quit date.

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But 32pc of those who set a date proved they'd kicked the habit by having a test that checks carbon monoxide in their bloodstream.

The Stop Smoking Service offers support with one-to-one counselling or group sessions.

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Some provision is provided by East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH), which said their results beat the national average, while other services are provided by GPs and pharmacists.

Medicines that help with nicotine cravings can also be prescribed, while some people also use over the counter products.

The data groups all smoking cessation services together, and an ECCH spokesman said their services had performed above the national average.

The data showed 342 quitters succeeded with a cold turkey approach with no chemical substitutes for cigarettes.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health at Norfolk County Council said: 'Smoking remains one of the most important causes of early death and health inequalities in Norfolk. I really welcome the recent data that shows that about half of people who set a date succeed in stopping smoking.

'These numbers also mean that if you have tried to stop smoking before but not been successful it's worth trying again. And if you are not ready to quit, we recommend switching to e-cigarettes.

'As well as helping people to quit smoking, public health is working with others to try to prevent young people from starting to smoke. We support colleagues in trading standards to get bootleg cigarettes off the streets and, with local councils, promote smoke-free sports side-lines and smoke-free children's playparks.'

The total cost of the service in Norfolk was £1,539,000, which is equivalent to £582 for each person that quit.

Latest figures from Public Health England show 14pc of the adult population of Norfolk are smokers.

The campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says that the popularity of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting explains some of the decline in users of the service across England but not all of it.

They say tighter council budgets, less publicity nationally about services and an apparent reduction in GPs prompting people to take up the service may also be to blame.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at ASH, said: 'We want to see investment going back into funding these services through local authorities. We need the NHS to step up in its referral of people to stop smoking services and we'd like to see greater investment in mass media campaigns to make smokers aware of these services.'

The data shows that in Norfolk, men had more success than women with 50pc quitting compared to 44pc of women.

The services also record if women were pregnant when they signed up and the figures show that 30pc of them managed to stop smoking.

Older people had a higher quit rate than younger ones. In Norfolk the most successful age group was 60 and over with a success rate of 51pc. For 18 to 34-year-olds it was 42pc.

Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at PHE said: 'If you're not a smoker, don't start and don't vape. If you're a smoker, quit now and consider using an e-cigarette as an aid. Using an e-cigarette along with support from your local stop smoking service gives you the best chance of quitting successfully.'

• To get help with quitting smoking in Norfolk, visit www.smokefreenorfolk.nhs.uk or call 0800 0854113.

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