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There has been another drop in the number of smokers using NHS Scotland quit smoking services.

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The latest report from NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division “provides information about the reach and quit success of NHS smoking cessation services in Scotland for 2016/17, including trend data from 2009/10, and performance figures against the smoking cessation standard.” Smokers accessing its Quit services have dropped for the fifth consecutive year.

The report states “The number of quit attempts made with the help of NHS smoking cessation services in 2016/17 fell for the fifth consecutive year to 59,767. This represents an 8% decrease from 2015/16 and a 51% decrease since 2011/12.”

The authors attribute vaping as being one of the main reasons this has occurred. The bonus is that there’s been a slight increase in the success rate of people accessing support: “the percentage of successful quit attempts at both 4 and 12 weeks have increased by one percentage point from 2015/16.”

Smokers looking to quit found most success in the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and the Borders regions. The least successful in their attempts hailed from the Highlands, Greater Glasgow, Tayside and Lothian.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish LibDem spokesperson for health, said: “We need to understand why the Scottish Government has not reached this target to ensure that this situation is addressed next year.”

An NHS Grampian spokesperson addressed Cole-Hamilton’s point: “Firstly, the significant growth in the popularity of e-cigarettes means many are choosing to ‘vape’ as an alternative to smoking, rather than quitting. Secondly, many of these smokers are not yet ready to give up or have no desire at all to stop.”

She continued: “Smoking prevalence is highest among the most deprived communities, and smokers within these areas can often be the hardest to reach and are less likely to engage with services. There are around 100,000 smokers in Grampian – quitting remains the single most important thing they can do for their health.”

Aileen Campbell, the SNP’s Minister for Public Health highlighted another salient aspect: “These figures should be considered in the context of a significant reduction in smoking prevalence. The recently published Scottish Health Survey showed that 21% of adults now smoke – a drop of four percentage points since 2012.”

Gregor McNie, of Cancer Research UK: “It’s crucial that smokers get the best possible help to quit a deadly habit that causes at least 14 different types of cancer. How to help smokers stop needs to be at the heart of the Scottish Government’s updated tobacco strategy which is expected soon.”

“Smoking cessation services are vital,” McNie continued, “as they’re much more successful at helping people quit than will power alone. With around 18% of adults in Scotland smoking, helping them to give up is essential to the health of our nation.”

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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