Two thirds of smokers in Hartlepool using support services failing to quit

People still smoking despite using support services to help them quit. Picture: PA.
People still smoking despite using support services to help them quit. Picture: PA.

Just a third of the people using the NHS Stop Smoking Service in Hartlepool managed to quit, according to the latest figures.

In the 12 months from April 2017 to March this year, 1,228 people in Hartlepool signed up with the NHS Stop Smoking Service and set themselves a date to quit.

At follow up meetings four weeks later, 454 people said they had given up, according to data from NHS England. That’s 37%, which is well below the average rate for England of 51% during the period. The average for the North East was 47%.

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 19% 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 data shows that one quitter succeeded with a cold turkey approach with no chemical substitutes for cigarettes.

The total cost of the service in Hartlepool was £281,991, which is equivalent to £621 for each person that quit.

Latest figures from Public Health England show that 19% of the adult population of Hartlepool 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 Hartlepool.

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 Hartlepool, men had more success than women with 38% quitting compared to 36% of women.

The services also record if women were pregnant when they signed up and the figures show that 32% of them managed to stop smoking.

Older people had a higher quit rate than younger ones.

In Hartlepool the most successful age group was 60 and over with a success rate of 44%. For 18 to 34-year-olds it was 31%.

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 are 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.”