The NHS Helps people to quit smoking

The NHS Helps people to quit smoking

New figures have shown that the cost to the NHS of helping smokers to quit has risen by a quarter, with each successful quitter costing the taxpayer £219.

This compares to £173 over the same period in 2007/08 and £160 in 2006/07. While critics have said this shows money is being wasted, health officials have hit back with the claim that smokers are growing harder to help.

The figure for smoking cessation does not include the price of nicotine replacement therapies like gums or patches, or the medications Champix or Zyban which are prescribed in cases where quitting is proving especially difficult.

Most people who tried to quit used smoking cessation drugs like Champix or else gums or inhalants, so the true cost of helping smokers quit is likely to be far higher. Only 5% of patients who used NHS services to set a quit date declined to use NRT, Champix or Zyban.

The cost comes from “talking” smoking cessation services provided by the NHS such as one-to-one support and group therapy with trained professionals. The money also pays for a variety of websites and help lines, though often different primary health care trusts have individual websites.

This year, however, of the 671,259 people who set a date on which they would quit smoking, only half four weeks later were truly able to say they had given up the habit.

The Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman, Norman Lamb, said that the figures showed the government was failing to reduce levels of smoking. He said, “The Government is wasting NHS resources which are vitally needed to save lives. It’s extraordinary that more money is being spent for worse outcomes."


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