Fewer smokers are managing to quit, Public Health England figures show

Lower numbers of people are relinquishing cigarettes as smoking cessation services dwindle because of government austerity cuts.

stubbing out cigarette

The number of smokers using commissioned NHS services to set a quit date and to stop smoking for four weeks have both fallen significantly since last year, new figures from Public Health England (PHE) have revealed.

PHE’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles Indicators for November 2017 show that NHS smoking cessation services registered 2,247.8 successful quitters at four weeks for every 100,000 smokers. This compares with 2,598 successful quitters at the same stage of the quitting process last year.

The number of smokers setting a quitting date stood at 4,434.4 per 100,000 this year, compared with 5,091.8 in November 2016.

The figures for 2017 and 2016 were described as a “significant decrease” by PHE.

This data follows figures published in August 2017 by NHS Digital, which showed that the number of people setting a quit smoking date fell for the fifth consecutive year this year.

NHS Digital’s annual smoking cessation report revealed that 307,507 people had set a quit date using NHS services in 2016–2017 — a decrease of 15% from 2015–2016.

The number of individuals who self-reported successfully stopping smoking after using NHS services also fell for the fifth consecutive year by 16% to 155,875, the report said.

The fall in stopping smoking figures comes at a time when fewer smoking cessation services are being commissioned from community pharmacies due to a fall in public health budgets.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) monitors all locally commissioned community pharmacy services and it has said that smoking cessation services have been most affected by financial restrictions.

Alistair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC told The Pharmaceutical Journal earlier this year: “The squeeze on local government budgets is clearly having a detrimental impact on the provision of public health services to local communities, including those provided by pharmacy teams”.

And an analysis of local government data by the King’s Fund revealed that smoking cessation services would continue to be hit by cuts.

The think tank concluded that smoking cessation services commissioned by English councils could be cut by up to 15% after studying Department of Communities and Local Government figures.

Despite the quitting figures, the recently-published PHE figures show that smoking levels in England have generally fallen.

Smoking prevalence among adults fell to 15.5% this year, from 16.9% last year, and the proportion of adults who have never smoked rose to 58.3% from 48.6% last year.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Fewer smokers are managing to quit, Public Health England figures show;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203887

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