Success in the tough battle against smoking in Central Bedfordshire
Six out of 10 people using the NHS Stop Smoking Service in Central Bedfordshire managed to quit, according to the latest figures.
In the six months from April to September last year, 659 people in Central Bedfordshire signed up with the NHS Stop Smoking Service and set themselves a date to quit.
At follow-up meetings four weeks later 397 people said they had given up, according to NHS England data.
That's 60%, which is above the average rate for England of 51%. The average for the East of England was 50%.
The success rate is based on self-reported results of people who said that they hadn't had a puff for two weeks since their quit date. But, 30% of those who set a date proved they'd kicked the habit by having a test that checks carbon monoxide in their bloodstream.
The Stop Smoking Service offers support with one-to-one counselling or group sessions. Medicines that help with nicotine cravings can also be prescribed, while some people also use over the counter products.
Rachael Hodges, policy officer at the British Lung Foundation said that smokers are far more likely to quit if they seek support.
"Research shows that smokers are about four times as likely to successfully stop smoking when using a specialist service, and this has remained stable over recent years," she explained
The service has been provided by local authorities rather than the NHS since 2013, but across the country funding is under threat as council's tighten their budgets.
In Central Bedfordshire, £207,341 has been allocated for stop smoking services this year, excluding the cost of medicines, down from £270,560 in the previous 12 months.
Ms Hodges said the BLF wants more help for councils.
"We call for the government to increase public health funding to local authorities so they can continue to fund these vital services," she said.
Dr Leonie Brose, senior lecturer in addictions at King's College London, said: "Smoking is one of the main causes of health inequalities and the main preventable cause of premature death and disability.
"Smoking cessation is one of the most cost-effective life-saving interventions available. Every pound spent on smoking cessation saves £10 in future healthcare costs and health costs."
Over the six months, Central Bedfordshire spent £120,899, including drug costs, the equivalent to £305 for each person that quit.
In Central Bedfordshire, women had more success than men with 61% quitting compared to 59% of men.
Smokers aged 60 and over were most successful in quitting.
Latest Public Health England figures show that 16% of Central Bedfordshire's adult population smoke.
Some local authorities no longer provide NHS Stop Smoking Services, and some did not supply complete data. Of 136 that did, the highest quit rate was 83% in Rutland and the lowest was 18% in Blackpool.