Services helping Glasgow to stop smoking

New research has revealed that smoking cessation services in Glasgow really are helping people to stub out the habit. With the introduction of the smoking ban on 26 March a report led by University of Glasgow researcher Linda Bauld analysed how helpful the NHS support services and the Glasgow Tobacco Strategy are for those trying to quit.

The report published today by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health revealed two methods of treatment available to smokers in the city achieve positive outcomes. These were the 'Starting Fresh' service offered by 90% of pharmacies in the Greater Glasgow area, and Group-based services co-ordinated by Smoking Concerns.

The 'Starting Fresh' service involves a prescription of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) as well as one-to-one support from the pharmacist. In 2004 approximately 13,000 smokers had set a quit date through the 'Starting Fresh' service and approximately one in four smokers had successfully quit at four weeks using this scheme.

The Smoking Concerns group-based services also offered NRT but was followed up with group-based support. Around 830 smokers set a quit date through group services in 2004. Just under half of smokers successfully quit at four weeks using this service. Notably, one in four people using group services was over the age of 60 and in general, older people were more likely to be successful in their quit attempt than younger clients ヨ a finding backed up by studies elsewhere.

Dr Bauld said: "Results from this evaluation of Glasgow services are consistent with other studies of smoking treatment services offering similar forms of support. This research shows that Glasgow's services are delivering effective help for smokers trying to quit."

The study also suggests that each form of service is necessary to meet the needs of different groups of smokers and that improved links between the two types of support may yield even more positive results for those wishing to quit.

A considerable challenge remains for these and other efforts to reduce smoking in Glasgow given the levels of deprivation in the city. Deprivation is associated with higher levels of addiction, and more addicted smokers find it harder to quit. When asked whether they smoked 'mainly for pleasure', 'mainly to cope' or 'about equally', 51% of Glasgow clients responded 'mainly to cope'.

Dr Carol Tannahill, Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health said: "Helping people to quit smoking is one of the most important roles of the health service. The smoking cessation services in Glasgow are working with smokers from all parts of the city, many of whom have complex needs, and are making a real difference. The challenge now is to develop the services so that they make more of a contribution to reducing the inequalities in health caused by smoking, for example by providing more intensive support to those who need it."

Dr Linda de Caestecker, acting Director of Public Health, NHS Greater Glasgow, said: 'NHS Greater Glasgow has developed different types of smoking cessation services to give people the opportunity to use a service that suits them best. We welcome this report, both in showing that our smoking cessation services are working but also in helping us improve them, particularly for people who are most addicted to tobacco and who will find it hardest to give up.

'We hope that the introduction of the new legislation to ban smoking in public spaces will encourage people to want to stop smoking. NHS Greater Glasgow will use this report to make sure that people are directed to the service that will them the right support to quit.'

As part of the services' continual development in light of new evidence and learning, the results of this report are being taken into consideration by both Starting Fresh and Smoking Concerns.

Kate Richardson (K.richardson@admin.gla.ac.uk)


1. The study, ?Tackling Smoking in Glasgow?, was funded by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, NHS Health Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and took place between July 2004 and September 2005. The research involved three main components:
? a scoping study of the Glasgow tobacco strategy;
? an evaluation of intensive group-based smoking cessation services in Glasgow; and
? an exploratory study of Starting Fresh - the pharmacy-based treatment for smokers in Glasgow.

2. Smoking Concerns (www.smokingconcerns.com) is the specialist tobacco project at Greater Glasgow NHS Board. It coordinates and delivers a wide range of tobacco control and smoking cessation activities across the Greater Glasgow area.

3. Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death and disability in the UK and smoking prevalence is higher in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, the problem being particularly acute in Glasgow. In the Greater Glasgow NHS Board area, smoking prevalence is over 33%, rising to 37% in Glasgow City and reaching as high as 63% in some of the most deprived areas of the city.

4. For more information please contact the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email Pressoffice@gla.ac.uk

First published: 16 March 2006

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