More than twice as many as expected gave up smoking following the Government initiative
Government smoking cessation services helped about 120,000 people in England give up smoking in the past year, more than double the target ministers originally set.
Official statistics show that between April 2001 and March this year, 220,000 smokers set a quit date, with more than half - 120,000 - still off the habit a month later. The Department of Health had set a target of 50,000 for the year.
The number of successful quitters at the four-week period was an 86 per cent increase on 2000-2001, when just 64,000 stayed off smoking.
Of those setting a quit date in the past year, the majority - 81 per cent - were aged 18 to 59, with 1 per cent aged under 18 and 18 per cent aged 60 or over.
Most received nicotine replacement therapy or the anti-smoking drug Zyban.
This year's expenditure on the services, not including prescription costs, was £24.6m.
Since smoking cessation services were set up in 1999-2000, the Government has invested an estimated £53m in the services. A further £20m has been set aside for future investment, plus a substantial amount for smoking cessation aids available on NHS prescription, the DoH said.
Tobacco advertising ban closer
A complete ban on tobacco advertising could come into force by the end of this year, the Government has said.
The bill banning press, billboard and internet advertising of tobacco has been working its way through Parliament and its passage is expected to be completed this autumn.
Public health minister Hazel Blears said: "Research shows that an advertising ban could eventually save up to 3,000 lives a year - a 2.5 per cent reduction in the number of deaths caused by smoking."