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Successful Implementation of Smoking Bans

Stop smoking NHS clinics ‘work’

NHS ‘stop smoking’ clinics have been hailed a success after figures showed particular progress in deprived areas.

The study found 8.8% of smokers in poorer areas had quit at the four-week mark, compared to 7.8% elsewhere.

The comparison is particularly relevant as smoking is a key factor in health inequalities with those from deprived backgrounds more likely to smoke.

The Bath University-led team compiled the data from the 1.5m people using the clinics in England from 2003 to 2006.

Smoking cessation clinics, offering counselling and treatment in the form of nicotine replacement therapy, were set up in 1999.

“This study shows that extra NHS cash really has managed to get more people to stop smoking”
Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health

Lead researcher Dr Linda Bault, who worked with experts from Edinburgh University, said: “Our study shows that the NHS stop smoking services are helping to reduce the health gap between rich and poor, which is good news for the overall health of the nation.”

But she added stop smoking services had to be accompanied by the continued successful implementation of smoking bans and rises in tobacco prices to have a wider effect.

The study, published in the Tobacco Control journal, compared data from smokers who accessed services in officially designated disadvantaged areas, called spearhead areas which have received extra funds and cover just over a quarter of the population, and compared them with other areas of the country.

The study found that quit rates were slightly lower for smokers from spearhead areas, at 53% at four weeks compared with 58% elsewhere.

Good news

But it added the services were treating them in larger numbers as a proportion of overall smokers than their more affluent neighbours, 17% compared with 13% elsewhere.

The overall effect was that a higher proportion of smokers in the more disadvantaged areas were successful in quitting.

Although previous research has shown that of those who quit after a month, less than one in four were still not smoking by the year-mark.

Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “This study shows that extra NHS cash really has managed to get more people to stop smoking. That is good news for the health of the country.

“Better still, the NHS has worked with smokers from deprived communities, and this will reduce health inequalities.”

He called for more money to be put into NHS services after recent predictions show the health service was heading for a £1.8bn surplus this year.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said NHS smoking cessation services had been “highly effective”.

And she added: “Narrowing the inequalities gap is a major challenge, but it is achievable.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/12/05 02:12:13 GMT

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