NHS support to help smokers quit is failing

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A Government-funded study has shown that extra help offered on the NHS to aid smokers in trying to quit is failing. Phone counselling and free nicotine patches from the NHS do not improve the success rate of smokers looking to kick their habit, the results indicate.

The study included 2,600 smokers who had called the NHS helpline. They were split into four groups with differing levels of support, yet the results showed no significant difference between those offered the standard help and those offered the extra support or free patches.

The leader of the study, Professor Tim Coleman, said that the results have shed useful light on the use of telephone helplines to assist smokers wanting to stop, and highlighted just how difficult it is for most smokers to break the addiction. Remarking that free patches and telephone counselling doesn’t work, Coleman said that other ways of using quitlines need to be found.

The study concluded free patches and intensive phone counselling was no more effective than standard help and support offered by the NHS. Only 17.7% of those offered the free patches were successful in quitting, while 20.1% of those not offered managed to kick their habit.

In 2010/11 £84.3 million was spent by the NHS on England’s Stop Smoking Services, almost half a million more than the year before and £60 million more than was spent ten years ago.

While the number of people looking to quit smoking has increased threefold over the last ten years, the success rate has slipped. The success rate of those trying to quit smoking is currently at 49%, the same as the year before, but down 4% from 2001/02.

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Emma Brown

Emma graduated in 2005 from the University of York with a degree in English Literature. A huge passion for writing and health topics, Emma is a perfect match for Health News UK. Hobbies include; cooking, writing (of course), musicals and her 2 dogs.

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