Smokers in North Tyneside struggling to quit the habit

People still smoking despite using support services to help them quit. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
People still smoking despite using support services to help them quit. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images

Just four out of ten people using the NHS Stop Smoking Service in North Tyneside managed to quit, according to the latest figures.

In the 12 months from April 2017 to March this year, 1,397 people in North Tyneside signed up with the NHS Stop Smoking Service and set themselves a date to quit.

At follow up meetings four weeks later 581 people said they had given up, according to data from NHS England, which equates to 42 per cent – is below the average rate for England of 51 per cent during the period.

The success rate is based on self-reported results of people who said that they hadn’t had a puff for two weeks since their quit date. But 36 per cent of those who set a date proved they’d kicked the habit by having a test that checks carbon monoxide in their bloodstream.

The Stop Smoking Service has been provided by local authorities rather than the NHS since 2013. It offers support with one-to-one counselling or group sessions. Medicines that help with nicotine cravings can also be prescribed, while some people also use over the counter products.

The total cost of the service in North Tyneside was £196,428, which is equivalent to £338 for each person that quit.

Latest figures from Public Health England show that 17% of the adult population of North Tyneside are smokers.

The number of people using the service across the country has been falling and it went down compared to the previous 12 month period in North Tyneside.

The campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says that the popularity of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting explains some of the decline in users of the service across England but not all of it. They say tighter council budgets, less publicity nationally about services and an apparent reduction in GPs prompting people to take up the service may also be to blame.

Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy at ASH, said: “We want to see investment going back into funding these services through local authorities. We need the NHS to step up in its referral of people to stop smoking services and we’d like to see greater investment in mass media campaigns to make smokers aware of these services.”

The data shows that in North Tyneside, men had more success than women with 43% quitting compared to 40% of women.

The services also record if women were pregnant when they signed up and the figures show that 22% of them managed to stop smoking.

Older people had a higher quit rate than younger ones. In North Tyneside the most successful age group was 60 and over with a success rate of 50%. For 18 to 34-year-olds it was 32%.

Some local authorities no longer provide NHS Stop Smoking Services and some did not supply complete data. Of the 141 that did, the highest quit rate was 80% in Croydon and the lowest was 24% in Cumbria.

Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at PHE said: “If you’re not a smoker, don’t start and don’t vape. If you’re a smoker, quit now and consider using an e-cigarette as an aid. Using an e-cigarette along with support from your local stop smoking service gives you the best chance of quitting successfully.”