NHS Stop Smoking Services in England

Smoking is the primary cause of preventable illness and premature death, accounting for approximately 100,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom. Reducing the number of people who smoke is therefore a key priority in improving the health of the population and Stop Smoking Services are a key NHS intervention to reduce smoking.

How has the percentage of smokers quitting changed?

Although smoking prevalence has fallen in Great Britain (from 26% in 2003 to 19% in 2013 HSCIC Stop Smoking Statistics), the health consequences of smoking continue to present a major public health challenge. The effectiveness of the NHS Stop Smoking Service is judged by the number of people who, when assessed 4 weeks after a designated quit date, declare they have not smoked in the past 2 weeks.

The highest proportion of successful quitters was seen in 2003/04, when 57% of people using the service declared they had successfully quit. In 2003/04, the Department of Health's first integrated smoking campaign launched, which may have been responsible for the success rate NHS Smoke Free. The proportion of quitters steadily declined to the lowest level of 49% in 2010/11, increased in 2012/13 but has fallen again since.

How has the absolute number of adults joining NHS stop smoking services changed?

The absolute number of people setting a quit date gradually increased from 2003/04 to a peak of over 800,000 in 2011/12. Since then, the number has plummeted, hitting roughly 450,000 in 2014/15. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people increasingly smoke e-cigarettes in lieu of quitting. The declining prevalence of smoking may also contribute to the decreasing number of quitters, although this trend outlasts the period of decline.

How has the percentage of successful quitters changed by quarter?

Quarterly data reveal that quarter 4 of each financial year (i.e. January to March) sees the highest rate of successful quitters, suggesting the motivational impact of the New Year's Resolutions. This trend has become less pronounced since 2011/12 with the proportion of quitters steadily increasing across all quarters since then.

How do quit rates vary by gender and ethnicity?

In 2014/15, the ethnic groups with the highest quit rates were 'Pakistani' (56%), 'any other Asian background' (53%), and 'Chinese' (53%). The lowest were 'any other ethnic group' (34%), those who did not state their ethnicity (42%) and 'any other mixed background' (43%).

Generally males had a higher quit rate (52%) than females (50%) in 2014/15. However, this gender split was not mirrored across all ethnicities and women often had a higher quit rate than men.

About this data

This indicator looks at the proportion of adults (over 16s) who quit smoking within four weeks of an initial appointment through the NHS Stop Smoking scheme. A patient is counted as having successfully quit smoking at the 4 week follow-up if he/she says they have not smoked at all since two weeks after the quit date.


Spend per smoker chart should be clearer about whether percentage (label text) or proportion (discussion and axis value labels in relation to other charts) is shown. I don't think around 200 GBP is spent per smoker to get around 5 in 1000 who want to quit to actually quit. 50 in 100 is probably what is intended.

Bates (not verified)
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Dear Mr Bates

Thank you very much for your comment and for spotting this error. You are correct the y-axis should be labelled as percentages and therefore quitters are 50 in 100 as you point out. This was due to a technical issue, we have now fixed this and will be updating this chart.

Thank you again for your comment and apologies for any confusion caused.

Best wishes

Quality Watch team

Quality Watch team (not verified)
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