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Stop SmokingAugust 26 2015

The number of people setting a quit date through NHS stop smoking services in England fell 23% in 2014-15 compared to the previous year. Of the 450,582 people who did set a quit date, 229,688 or 51% self-reported that they had quit and 69% of successful quitters had their results confirmed by carbon monoxide verification.

Annual statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre indicate that the number of people setting a quit date continues the downward trend. 2014-15 was the first time the number fell for three consecutive years since NHS smoking cessation services were set up in 2000 across all health authorities.

HSCIC says anecdotal evidence suggests the decline in uptake of NHS services is due to an increase in e-cigarette use. “It is possible that the fall in smoking prevalence may also be a factor but the decrease in smoking prevalence is a long established trend which covers the earlier period of increasing use of Stop Smoking Services as well as the recent decline,” it added.

General practice had the highest number of people setting a quit date (173,153 smokers) and also had the highest number of self-reported successful quitters (82,900) with a success rate of 48%.

Community services had the next highest number of people setting quit dates (129,534 with a 56% success rate) and then community pharmacy at 84,961 (with a 48% success rate) However, the ‘workplace’ intervention setting had the highest proportion of successful quitters at 61%.

The report notes that “18,887 pregnant women set a quit date with NHS Stop Smoking Services, compared to 19,833 in 2013-14 and 15,060 in 2004-05. This represents a reduction of 5% on 2013-14 and an increase of 25% on 2004-05.”

The report includes the latest stop smoking support prescribing data which is from 2013-14. Of the 1.8 million prescription items to help people stop smoking in 2013-14, around 1.1 million were for nicotine replacement therapy, 697,000 were for varenicline and 22,000 were for bupropion. The Net Ingredient Cost of all prescription items was £48.8 million, down from a peak of £65.9m in 2010-11.

“Of all pharmacotherapies used to help people quit smoking, ‘Combination of licensed nicotine containing products (NCPs) concurrently’ had the highest number setting a quit date (135,719) and the second highest number of successful quitters (65,061),” says HSCIC

In addition, the category ‘Varenicline (Champix) only’ had the highest number of successful quitters (68,296) and ‘Unlicensed NCP’ had the highest quit rate (66%). There were 24,281 people who set a quit date and did not use any licensed medication or unlicensed NCP, and of whom 52% quit successfully.

The trade body representing OTC medicines manufacturers, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain said the three-year and 48% decline in the use of stop smoking services must be reversed. It called on government to renew investment and support.

Donna Castle, PAGB Director of Public Affairs and Communications, said: “The use of Stop Smoking Services is declining at an alarming rate because service funding is being cut. We are calling on national and local health policy-makers to recognise the valuable contribution that Stop Smoking Services can make to individuals, the NHS and the economy and to highlight the immediate need for sustained investment.

“Although smoking prevalence overall is decreasing, trends suggest this may plateau and there are considerable inequalities in rates of smoking so we must ensure that smokers continue to have access to the most effective interventions to support their quit attempt, which evidence shows to be licensed smoking cessation therapies, such as NRT, delivered in conjunction with behavioural support through Stop Smoking Services.”

Link:

HSCIC ‘Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England - April 2014 to March 2015’                

PAGB statement                

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