English Smoking Cessation Services Seeing Record Patient Numbers

The English Smoking Cessation Services are face-to-face tobacco cessation counseling services provided at no cost (other than co-pays for some medicines for those not on a low income) to all smokers in England.

During the period April 2007 to March 2008, 680,289 people set a quit date
through the NHS Stop Smoking Services and 350,800 people successfully quit, 52%
of those setting a quit date. Quitting in these services is defined as a self-report of no tobacco use in the prior 2 weeks at a follow-up 4 weeks after the target quit date.

88% of those setting a target quit date used a smoking cessation medicine, with 70% using NRT, 14% using varenicline, and 3% bupropion.

The overall annual cost of the services was 61 million British Pounds and the cost per quitter in 2007-8 was 173 British Pounds. This represents fantastic value for money for the healthcare system. Even if we assume that only one in three of the one month quitters remain long term quitters, this means the cost is less than 600 pounds (about US $800) per long term quitter, or in the region of 100 pounds per healthy life year added.

These services demonstrate that it is possible to deliver quality smoking cessation treatment on population-wide level with excellent “reach” and get very good value for money. It is noteworthy that although England also has an excellent free telephone quitline, even more smokers are being treated by the face-to-face services.

Other countries should consider trying to replicate the best parts of the English smoking cessation services.

Some recent statistics from the English smoking cessation services can be found at:
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.