Selling smoking cessation

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Only about 50% of smokers attempting to quit use any type of support in their quit attempts. A recent trial has provided clear evidence on how to improve uptake of subsidised smoking cessation services.

A recent paper by Cummings and Carpenter reports on a trial to increase use of Stop Smoking Services (SSS). Most smokers attempts to stop smoking are unplanned and typically made without professional assistance even though effective support combining behavioural counselling and pharmacotherapy is available. Evidence has shown that the network of SSS is effective. UK smokers are more likely to receive cessation support for any quit attempt compared with other countries. However only about half of smokers in the UK report using any type of support to quit, most commonly electronic cigarettes and over the counter nicotine replacement therapy. Less than 5% of smokers report using the SSS as a quit method.

Low attendance is a concern because there is evidence to show that the SSS are a highly cost-effective intervention producing higher quit rates than other approaches but are also effective in reaching smokers from disadvantaged communities. A randomised controlled trial addressed the low and declining attendance at National Health Services SSS. It generated clear evidence on how to improve the delivery of SSS and general support for the UK SSS overall. The authors conclude that Government authorities should resist any cost-cutting suggestions to decrease support for SSS.

K, Michael Cummings and Matthew j Carpenter  (2017) Selling smoking cessation. The Lancet Vol 389 No 10071 p768-70



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