Number of smokers accessing free NHS quit support increases by a third

Thursday, 29 August 2019

A record breaking 15,599 smokers in Wales used free NHS Help Me Quit services in 2018-19 – signalling the fourth consecutive year of growth and an increase of 3,672 smokers from five years ago (31 per cent).

This was the service’s most successful year ever. In the past five years, Help Me Quit has treated an impressive total of 70,796 smokers.  More and more smokers in Wales are recognising that getting a little help to quit is going a long way to a smoke-free future. Compared to the rest of the UK, this bucks the general trend where the number of smokers seeking NHS treatment and support has declined in recent years.

Figures for smoking prevalence in Wales, taken from the National Survey for Wales, also indicate a fall from 19 per cent in 2017-18 to 17 per cent in the most recent survey results released in early August. 
Both sets of figures are welcome news for Public Health Wales, which in partnership with the seven Welsh health boards provides free, effective and tailored stop smoking support.

Ashley Gould, Consultant in Public Health and National Lead for Tobacco Control, said: “We’ve been working hard to reach out to smokers and make them more aware of the great NHS Wales services that are available to them, to help them reach their goal of being smoke-free. Help Me Quit services provide free stop smoking medication and all the hints, tips and support needed to quit, which together have been shown to be the most effective way to quit.

“Therefore it’s hugely pleasing to see that in the last five years over 70,000 people have been treated by Help Me Quit services, which are delivered in workingmen’s clubs, town halls, community pharmacies and hospital settings that are easy to get to.

“Stopping smoking is hard, but it’s often the number one thing smokers can do for their health, their wallets and their loved ones. Seven in 10 smokers in Wales want to quit – Help Me Quit is the best way to make that happen.  The chances of making a successful quit attempt are four times greater with our support than by going it alone. This is a message we’re trying to send to the 190,000 smokers in Wales who try to stop every year.

“Many don’t succeed, but the NHS is there to help, providing friendly services through group sessions, one-to-one, or over the telephone. All smokers making a quit attempt also receive up to £250 worth of free stop smoking medication.” 

If you’re a smoker that wants to quit, join the tens of thousands trying with NHS support by searching for Help Me Quit online, calling 0800 085 2219, or texting HMQ to 80818 and we’ll call you back.