Published: 04/03/2004, Volume II4, No. 5895 PagePrimary care trusts say they are keen to broaden their anti-smoking strategy beyond the four-week targets attacked in the Wanless report on public health.

Existing targets say PCTs across England should have helped 800,000 smokers quit for four weeks in the three years to 2006.

But last week Securing Good Health for the Whole Population by former NatWest chief executive Derek Wanless criticised the targets for being based on too short a period and taking at face value quitters' claims they have given up.

The report quotes statistics that show up to 70 per cent of smokers who have given up for four weeks will have relapsed within a year.It calls for 'a much broader crossgovernment strategy to change behaviour'.

Public health leads contacted by HSJ said they were keen to take on more ambitious goals. Middlesbrough PCT director of public health Professor Peter Kelly said quitters should attend a follow-up session a year later so their breath could be tested for carbon monoxide levels.

And GPs could regularly record which of their patients are smokers to give PCTs an accurate gauge of smoking rates.

'I would like the measure of quitting to be more scientific, probably looking at an accurate method of whether they've quit or not, ' he told HSJ.

St Helen's PCT director of public health Fiona Johnstone stressed that joint targets with local authorities should focus on how many public places and businesses go smoke free: 'We need to get a lot tougher to protect people from passive smoking.'

The three PCTs that share North Cumbria smoking-cessation service achieved three times the target quit rate, but public health director Dr Jean Vickers believes they should be assessing success after six months, not four weeks.

A tobacco control co-ordinator at North Cumbria will have a much wider remit - to persuade workplaces to become smoke free, and parents to stop smoking at home.