Stop-smoking programmes cost NHS £61m

The NHS spent almost £61m on services to help people stop smoking last year – £10m more than in 2006-07 and almost £36m more than in 2001-02, according to latest figures.

It cost the equivalent of £173 for each smoker it helped, with more than 680,000 people setting a quit date in 2007-08, up 13% on the year before.

The statistics from the NHS Information Centre are the first full-year figures since the UK’s ban on smoking in public places was introduced nationally last summer.

The research also suggested that, of those who set a date, more than half had stayed off cigarettes by their four-week follow-up, a 10% increase on the same point the year before.

More women than men set a quit date, although men had a slightly higher success rate (53%) than women (51%).

The most popular way of giving up, chosen by seven out of 10 of those setting a date to quit, was nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine patches, gum or nasal spray.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Our figures show the NHS is spending millions more pounds on NHS Stop Smoking Services, while thousands more smokers are successfully kicking the habit.”

Nevertheless, new medical research has suggested that smoking cessation services are failing to reach young people.

According to the British Medical Journal, interventions aimed at young people to help them stop smoking have had only limited success and there is an urgent need for new and effective programmes to which young people will subscribe.

The journal has pointed to a review of several Scottish NHS programmes that have found a key problem to be recruiting young people into the programmes.

After one year, only 11 young people from all seven projects had managed to quit long-term, it found.

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