NHS stop smoking services celebrated their 10-year anniversary last month. In that time, at least 70,000 lives have been saved by the services, according to new figures.

The number of people whose lives have been saved could fill Old Trafford football stadium or 875 double decker buses, the Department of Health said.

The establishment of the NHS stop smoking services in 1999 revolutionised England’s approach towards stopping smoking

During the last decade, the smoking prevalence among the general population has fallen from 28 per cent to below 21 per cent.

Public health minister Gillian Merron said: “I am proud of the hard work behind every one of these 70,000 success stories. Every life saved represents a battle against an addiction – a triumph for the individual and their family. Stopping smoking is hard, but thanks to free local NHS stop smoking services, you are up to four times more likely to succeed.”

Patricia Miles, 70, of Brighton, was one of the first smokers to benefit from her local NHS stop smoking service 10 years ago. She said: “When I started smoking everyone did it. My mother, husband and sister smoked. But my son hates smoking and wouldn’t go near the stuff. It feels wonderful to have quit and I am so thankful that my local stop smoking service made me one of the 70,000 lives they saved.”

The establishment of the NHS stop smoking services in 1999 revolutionised England’s approach towards stopping smoking, making it one of the few countries to offer free stop smoking support and advice to the public in every region.

England is at the forefront in tackling the damage that tobacco does and has constantly adapted to the needs of the public. Now, local NHS stop smoking services offer a range of support for individuals and groups – recognising that not everyone responds as well to the same treatment.

There are more than 150 local NHS stop smoking services throughout England providing free support at GP practices, local community sports and leisure centres, workplaces, dental practices, high street pharmacists, third sector organisations and children’s centres.

Anniversary case studies

Anna, service manager, Brighton and Hove stop smoking services

Anna Fairhurst has been providing stop smoking services for over 15 years. Having set up a clinic in her local hospital for patients who wanted to stop smoking, Anna went on run the stop smoking service for the East Sussex area.

“Patricia came to see me 10 years ago when I was running a clinic one day a week in a hospital. She wanted to go smoke free but needed support as she didn’t think she could stop smoking on her own. Patricia and I had one-to-one sessions for three months and then continued to talk on the phone for a long time after that.

“Smoking in England has changed so much in the last 10 years. A decade ago there were very few services to help people stop. Now the majority of GPs run stop smoking services as well as a large number of pharmacies. There are 152 tailored stop smoking services across England and the support telephone number is on adverts across the country.

“Everyone understands that smoking is a real medical issue and that you are four times more likely to stop if you use your local NHS stop smoking service. Smokers who seek support to quit should not only be helped but praised for their efforts.

“I still see Patricia and am so pleased to see the difference going smoke free has made to her life and that of her family”.

Patricia Miles, former smoker

Patricia Miles, 70, gave up smoking 10 years ago. Following a conversation with her doctor about her painful varicose veins, Patricia decided it was time to stop. “My doctor said that if I wanted to be able to walk I had to stop smoking. I had smoked for over 40 years and it had definitely taken its toll on my health.”

Patricia’s GP referred her on to the South Downs stop smoking service in Brighton.

 “At the clinic I met Anna, a stop smoking adviser who still works in the area. Anna and I met for half an hour every week. Those one-to-one sessions were amazing. I felt able to really open up and she always said to me that I could call her whenever I wanted, that she was just on the end of a phone line.

“When I started smoking everyone did it. My mother, husband and sister smoked. But my son hates smoking and wouldn’t go near the stuff.

“I still see Anna from time to time. I was so lucky to meet her and am always thankful that my local stop smoking service was around at the time to help me out and ensure that I was one of the 70,000 lives they saved”.

NHS Smokefree fact sheet: quitting

  • Three-quarters of smokers (74%) say they would like to quit if they could.
  • 58% of smokers say that they intend to quit in the next 12 months.
  • 86% of smokers cite at least one health reason for why they want to quit.
  • 60% of current smokers have made a serious attempt to quit in the past five years.
  • 53% of smokers have sought some kind of help or advice for quitting smoking.
  • 87% of people who have attempted to stop smoking in the last year would like to stop smoking.
  • Heavy smokers are more likely to have tried to stop smoking (87%).
  • 55% of smokers said that someone had asked them to stop smoking - this tended to be a partner (22%), son or daughter (17%) or a parent (16%).
  • Women were more likely than men to say that their children were asking them to quit (22% and 13% respectively).
  • Only 7% of smokers who had previously managed to stop smoking had quit for two years or more, while 72% had only managed to quit for six months or less.

Telephone numbers for NHS stop smoking support

  • NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 066 5826)
  • NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline (0800 169 9 169)
  • NHS Asian Tobacco Helpline
  • Urdu - 0800 169 0 881
  • Punjabi - 0800 169 0 882
  • Hindi - 0800 169 0 883
  • Gujarati - 0800 169 0 884
  • Bengali - 0800 169 0 885