A study of smokers in England found NHS Stop Smoking Services prevented more than 18,000 premature deaths in one year alone.
Today marks No Smoking Day, a day when many smokers across the country set a date to try and quit. These new research findings from health scientists at the University of Stirling provide extra motivation never to light up again.
More than 724,247 people accessed the services in England between April 2012 and March 2013. Services include access to trained advisers who give support and counselling, and who can prescribe a variety of stop smoking medications. An evaluation of 3000 smokers using these services identified that eight percent had still not smoked one year after quitting.
Linda Bauld, Stirling Professor of Health Policy and lead author of the study, said: “Stopping smoking is difficult for many people and the UK remains one of the only countries in the world where you can access free at-the-point-of-use help to quit.
“This new study builds on previous research that shows that smoking cessation services are helping to save lives. When you take into consideration the relapse rate after one year, and that one in two smokers die prematurely as a result of their smoking, we can estimate that 18,124 early deaths were avoided as a result of people using the stop smoking services in that year.”
Smokers across nine English regions were recruited over a one year period, each reporting their progress at four weeks and a year after their agreed quit date. Carbon Monoxide measurements were taken at both stages to provide a biochemical validation of not smoking.
The results found eight percent of the participants remained abstinent from smoking after a year and that those who received specialist one-to-one or group behavioural support were three times more likely to quit than those who accessed services in their GP practice or pharmacy.
Professor Bauld added: “We found that outcomes and reach varied depending on the different types of support that smokers were offered when they accessed services. What was clear, however, is that the best chances of success come from seeing specialists who are trained to give the best support. Some smokers need this extra help to quit and so continued investment in these services is vital if more people are to stop smoking for good.
“Our study focused on the situation in England but we know that 116,198 people accessed equivalent cessation services in Scotland over the same period. If we apply our study results to Scotland 2,907 people were helped to stop smoking for good, saving lives north of the border as well.”
This research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme. Professor Bauld led the project team, which involved experts from the Universities of Bath, Oxford, Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London and University College London.
Stirling is the leading University for health sciences research in Scotland, ranked No.1 in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF). Research projects include award-winning analysis of the marketing of alcohol, tobacco and junk food on children and a study of cancer-heightening chemicals in the workplace.
Find out more about No Smoking Day.