1,000 people a day quit smoking with NHS

Thursday 19 August 2010

Action on Smoking & Health has welcomed today’s announcement from the Department of Health that the NHS in England helped a record 374,000 smokers to quit smoking last year. The figure refers only to those who quit for at least 4 weeks using NHS services and does not include the millions of smokers who try to go it alone every year.

Martin Dockrell, Director of Policy & Research said:

“This just shows what you can do when you have a proper plan to help smokers quit. Smoking costs the NHS at least £2.7 billion a year and when you include disability benefits, absenteeism and other costs it mounts up to a colossal £13.74 billion, so the small investment from the government brings huge benefits to UK PLC. And of course this is the opposite of the Nanny State: these are people who really want to quit but they know they stand a much better chance of making their choice stick if they get professional help from the NHS.”

However, Dockrell added a note of caution:

“It is not all good news. When the NHS is allowed to advertise on television the numbers of smokers using the service rises and quit rates go up but when the campaigns stop quitters are less likely to find their way to the help they need. What we need urgently is a proper tobacco policy. However, the new Coalition Government, as yet, has no such plan and has been under intense pressure from companies that manufacture and sell cigarettes to undo the ban on tobacco displays and cigarette vending machines passed by parliament only a year ago.”


Notes and links:
[1] Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services: England, April 2009 – March 2010

[2] Beyond Smoking Kills. ASH, 2008. http://ash.org.uk/current-policy-issues/beyond-smoking-kills
[3] ‘Cough Up’ Balancing tobacco income and costs in society. A report by Policy Exchange. 2010