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Smokers Kicking Habit After Ban


Nearly 165,000 people in England gave up smoking with the help of the NHS last summer, when lighting up was banned in enclosed public spaces. This is a 28% increase in the number of people successfully using the Stop Smoking Services compared to 2006.

Although these findings only relate to those using the NHS service, they are the first figures on quitting to emerge since the smoking ban was introduced.

The Information Centre for Health and Social Care published the data. It covers the period between April and September of 2007.

2005: 142,188
2006: 128,868
2007: 164,711

While the figures do show a significant increase from 2006, in that year the number of quitters had actually declined from 2005.

They also do not take into account those who quit using other methods outside the NHS, and whether these numbers rose or declined.

However they do tally with other available figures. Cigarette sales in the UK dropped by almost 11% in July 2007 compared with the same month the year before, although it is unclear whether this effect lasted. Smoking was on the decline well before the ban. The latest available figures show the overall prevalence of smoking among the adult population fell to 22% in 2006 – its lowest recorded level.

“It’s great news that so many smokers have been able to quit, preventing serious health problems and complications. It’s not easy to overcome a nicotine addiction so it’s clear that the NHS Stop Smoking Service is providing a vital service,” said Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.

“And these figures are confirmation that the £56m we invested into the service last year was money well spent.”

According to the ONS, the drug Champix was the most successful in helping people quit.

The highest success rates were reported by the East Midlands, East of England, South East Coast and South Central Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), while the North East SHA reported the lowest rate, although the difference was not great.

Quitters were defined as those who, by their own account, were still not smoking four weeks after treatment.

According to public health specialists, perhaps as many as 50% of those will however be smoking again six months later.

Dr Tim Crayford of the Association of Directors of Public Health said this does not detract from the benefits of the service. “Even if some do eventually go back to smoking, the fact that others have permanently quit is what’s important. It remains one of the most cost-effective services the NHS can provide.”

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