Editorials

National smoking cessation services at risk

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7322.1140 (Published 17 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1140

They are effective and cost effective and must be made permanent

  1. Martin Raw, honorary senior lecturer ([email protected]),
  2. Ann McNeill, honorary senior lecturer ([email protected]),
  3. Judith Watt, head of programme ([email protected]),
  4. David Raw, general practitioner
  1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Guy's, King's College, and St Thomas's Hospitals Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London
  2. Department of Psychology, St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London
  3. SmokeFree London, 40 Eastbourne Terrace, London W2 3QR
  4. Portsmouth PO5 3TJ

    Twenty two years ago Russell and his colleagues showed the effectiveness of brief advice from doctors in persuading smokers to stop,1 but only in the past few years has treatment for dependent smokers finally been taken seriously. Treatment services have been established throughout the NHS and are an integral part of the government's plans to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease and cancer.2 Smokers are now offered behavioural support to stop plus NHS prescriptions of nicotine replacement therapy or bupropion, treatments shown to be effective by a huge body of research and based on national clinical guidelines.3 These services have achieved impressive throughput and success rates, but they are now under threat because of the government's failure to confirm their future funding.

    In England between April 2000 and March 2001 about 127 000 smokers set a quit date and 48% of these stopped at one month. This has …

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