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Stop smoking stats show 18,000 premature deaths prevented

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Professor Linda Bauld
Professor Linda Bauld

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.

David Christie
Communications Officer
01786 466653

Notes for editors
Background information
  • The research was completed with the support of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, North51, National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, TNS BMRB and NHS Stop Smoking Services in nine parts of England. 
  • This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme (project number 09/161/101) and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment.

  • The University of Stirling is ranked fifth in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Stirling is committed to carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community. At almost 50-years-young, Stirling retains a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation. Its scenic central Scotland campus – complete with a loch, castle and golf course – is home to more than 11,000 students and 1400 staff representing 115 nationalities. This includes an ever-expanding base for postgraduate study. 
  • The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme funds research about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest NIHR programme and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 700 issues published to date. The journal’s 2013 Impact Factor (5.116) ranked it two out of 85 publications in the Health Care Sciences and Services category. All issues are available for download, free of charge, from the website. The HTA Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales, and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.
  • This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

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