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Tuesday 25th October 2016

NHS stop smoking service 10 year anniversary

17th August 2009

Stuart Shepherd reflects on the 10th anniversary of the NHS’ stop smoking services.


The establishment of the NHS stop smoking services in September 1999 marked the start of one of the most effective public health interventions of the past decade.

It brought smoking levels down in England from 28% to below 21%.

There are many impressive statistics associated with service but what stands out is the years 2003-2006 where 830,000 people were helped to stop smoking.

The legislation banning smoking in all enclosed spaces and workspace saw another 350,000 give up in 2007/08.

The beginning was modest with only 15,000 people looking to give up through a number of pilot sites but the success of the nationwide comprehensive smoking cessation programme, which grew from those original trials, is a credit to the skills of the specialist advisers and the vigilance of the referrers working in healthcare who advised smokers on accessing the right support to quit.

But it’s not all good news: there are still 8.5 million smokers in England and 80,000 deaths a year from smoking.

However, the lessons learned from those early successes have proved invaluable in continuing to drive down smoking prevalence and "reduce the impact it has on the wellbeing of individuals and their families".

Commissioners and providers have become better at targeting their resources while Department of Health guidance is being used to tailor services for specific groups.

Over the past decade, stop smoking services have emerged as one of the most cost-effective healthcare interventions as costs per quitter fall significantly.


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