NHS Smoking Cessation Services – United Kingdom


Since the publication in 1999, of the White Paper Smoking Kills, the UK Government has demonstrated a strong commitment to reducing smoking prevalence through the implementation of an advertising ban, raising tax on tobacco to increase its price, a ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places and the creation of a network of smoking cessation services. NHS stop smoking services represents a unique national initiative to provide support for smokers who are motivated to quit. The services target all age groups, with particular emphasis on pregnant women, those under 20 years of age, manual workers and people with low income. Recruitment is either by self-referral or by referral from any NHS clinician (General Medical Practitioners, General Dental Practitioners, Pharmacists, Health Visitors, etc.). The service provision framework employed by smoking cessation clinics was originally based on the Maudsley model, an evidence-based approach to treating dependent smokers. This approach entails regular meetings (in a group or on an individual basis) with a trained adviser using structured, withdrawal-orientated behavioural therapy combined with smoking cessation medications such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion or varenicline. Smoking cessation counsellors are trained to advise smokers in a manner appropriate to their individual backgrounds and will tailor their advice accordingly i.e. use different strategies as required. Additional activities include: media campaigns to publicise the service; training sessions and events for clinicians to raise their awareness of the service; training for the counsellors; numerous websites and publications.

Since the establishment of the services, the Department of Health (DH) in England has required local monitoring of the effectiveness of the smoking cessation services in all parts of the country. This involves regular reporting of the number of people setting a quit date and the number of 4-week quitters. The service is funded by the NHS and an early evaluation indicated that it was very costs effective. It has continued and institutional ownership guarantees its funding and human resources.

Additional information: (last accessed in March 2017)

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Life Cycle Stages: Older People (>65 yrs) | Pregnancy | School Age | Seniors (>75 yrs) | The Young Old (50-65 yrs) | Work Life | 
Main Settings: healthcare services | 
Specific Topics: substance abuse | 

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