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Performance of English stop smoking services in first 10 years: analysis of service monitoring data

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 20 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4921
  1. Robert West, professor of health psychology12,
  2. Sylvia May, consultant researcher2,
  3. Matthew West, consultant researcher2,
  4. Emma Croghan, director of public health and lifestyle services3,
  5. Andy McEwen, senior research associate12
  1. 1Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  2. 2National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT), 1-6 Yarmouth Place, London W1J 7BU, UK
  3. 3North 51 Ltd, Biocity, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to: R West robert.west{at}
  • Accepted 24 July 2013


Objectives To analyse the performance of the English Stop Smoking Services from 2001/02 to 2010/11.

Design Analysis of national service monitoring data.

Setting England.

Participants Smokers recorded as having been treated by English stop smoking services between April 2001 and March 2011.

Main outcome measures Annual figures for the number of quit dates set (throughput), the percentage of these that led to biochemically verified abstinence after four weeks (four week quit rate), and the “impact” in terms of the number of four week quitters beyond those who it is estimated would have stopped with only a prescription for smoking cessation treatment; characteristics of smokers being treated, medication used, and mode of delivery (for example, one to one, group based); variability across local services in throughput, four week quit rates, and impact for 2010/11.

Results Throughput rose from 227 335 in 2001/02 to 787 527 (8% of all smokers) in 2010/11. The percentage of four week quitters declined slightly from 35% to 34%. Impact rose from 22 933 four week quitters created in 2001/02 to 72 411 in 2010/11 (corresponding to an estimated 21 723 12 month quitters). The services were successful in reaching disadvantaged smokers; 54% (n=425 684) were in receipt of free prescriptions in 2010/11. Substantial variation existed across local services in throughput, success rates, and impact.

Conclusions The English stop smoking services have had an increasing impact in helping smokers to stop in their first 10 years of operation and have successfully reached disadvantaged groups. However, performance across local services has varied considerably.


  • Contributors: RW had the original idea for this paper, led the analyses, and drafted the manuscript. MW extracted data from the Information Centre publications and produced the figures. SM assisted with the drafting and data analyses. AMcE and EC made significant contributions to the interpretation of the results and the writing of the paper. All authors had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript. RW is the guarantor.

  • Funding: This paper was part of the work of the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training that was funded by the Department of Health (DOH T336/BSS/M award number 49945). RW is a member of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, and RW and AMcE are funded by Cancer Research UK. The study sponsor had no role in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the article; or the decision to submit it for publication. The researchers are independent from the funder.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: all authors have support from NHS Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) for the submitted work; RW is a director of the NCSCT, undertakes research and consultancy for companies that develop and manufacture smoking cessation medications (Pfizer, Johnson &Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Nabi, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device, and is a trustee of QUIT, a charity that provides stop smoking support; MW has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device. EC previously worked at the English Department of Health as the delivery lead for tobacco control policy, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, Johnson &Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), and receives royalties from a book on smoking cessation and a book on health promotion. AMcE is a director of the NCSCT, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis), receives payment for providing training to smoking cessation specialists, receives royalties from books on smoking cessation, and has a share in a patent of a nicotine delivery device; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

  • Ethical approval: Not required for this study because it involved analysis of publically available data.

  • Data sharing: All stop smoking service and monitoring data can be obtained from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (

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