The number of smokers trying to quit with NHS help has dropped for the first time since 2008, while the total who successfully quit is also falling.

Cigarette_smokingAlmost 724,200 quit dates were set with NHS Stop Smoking Services in 2012/13, an 11% fall on the previous year, when 816,400 dates were set.

Today’s report for England, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), also found a 7% drop in the number of people who successfully quit compared to the previous year.

Some 401,000 people quit in 2011/12, down to 373,900 in 2012/13.

But the overall percentage of successful quitters has increased from 49% in 2011/12 to 52% in 2012/13.

The number of setters and quitters is three times as high as in 2002/03, when the overall success rate was 53%, the report said.

In 2012/13, more women than men set a quit date (376,400 women compared with 347,800 men) although the success rate of giving up was slightly higher in men (53%) than in women (50%).

The East Midlands strategic health authority region had the highest proportion of successful quitters (57%) compared to the North East region, which had the lowest (47%).

Spending on NHS Stop Smoking Services was £87.7 million across the year, down £500,000 on the previous year.

The cost per quitter was £235, a 7% rise on the £220 spent in 2011/12.

Betty McBride, policy and communications director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Smoking addiction kills over 100,000 every year so it is worrying that fewer people are trying to kick this lethal addiction.

“With tobacco continuing to blight the nation’s health, it’s crucial that smokers are offered collective support through health campaigns such as No Smoking Day and Stoptober.

“As the report shows, despite the numbers trying and quitting falling, the success rate of people quitting with NHS support is increasing.

“It’s therefore vital we see continued investment in smoking cessation services.”

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “We have made great progress in trying to reduce the number of people who smoke in this country by introducing important legislation such as banning tobacco advertising in 2003 and the smoke-free law that banned smoking in public places in 2007.

“But, with more than 100,000 people dying of smoking-related diseases every year in the UK, the HSCIC figures show that we must not become complacent and fool ourselves into believing we are doing enough to combat the damage that smoking does to our nation’s health.

“If we want to continue reducing the number of people who quit smoking each year in the UK, the Government must help build on the benefits of smoking cessation services and stop people from taking up smoking in the first place.

“This can be done by introducing legislation such as compulsory standardised packaging for tobacco products and a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.”

Courtesy of Press Association

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