The joint health and social care organisation used social marketing at the heart of commissioning a new stop-smoking service that delivered a 25 per cent increase in quit rates in the third quarter of 2006-07. The national performance in the same period was a 10 per cent fall.
Knowsley's previous stop-smoking service was hitting targets, but head of marketing and communication Ben O'Brien said more needed to be done to tackle smoking rates as high as 46 per cent of the adult population.
'We realised we needed to up the ante to get more people quitting and stay quitting,' he said. 'Local people were telling us 'if you shake a stick at us we won't value your service and use it'.'
Out went rigid NHS services that were 'lecturing', telling people why they should stop smoking, and in came an independent source of advice if people wanted to stop smoking, providing a positive and encouraging approach.
Six-weekly programmes were replaced by weekly drop-in services needing no appointment and based in a greater number of local community centres. Local advertising and promotional material focus on the positive - local characters who have stopped smoking - carrying slogans like 'We knew she could do it'.
'Our product is still a community-based stop-smoking service but looks and feels very different to the previous one,' said Mr O'Brien
The service, called Roy Castle Fag Ends Knowsley and provided by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, also avoids any use of the NHS lozenge.
'We didn't use NHS branding because of the customer insight about it being a turn-off,' said Mr O'Brien.
After the new package was introduced last October there was a 50 per cent increase in numbers using the service, and a 62 per cent quit rate in for the third quarter. In January this year there was a 170 per cent increase in those using the service and for the fourth quarter as a whole a 25 per cent increase in those setting a quit date and a 14 per cent increase in quitters.