MORE people than ever tried to quit smoking last year in Lothian – bucking the national trend.
NHS Lothian was one of only three health boards across Scotland to see an increase in the number of people accessing support services to help them give up.
Recently published statistics show that there were 13,685 quit attempts in Lothian in 2013, up 3.5 per cent from 13,192 in 2012.
Driving smoking levels down by just one per cent in the region would save 81 lives a year, according to experts.
With nearly ten per cent of the 140,000 smokers in Lothian accessing NHS smoking cessation services, health bosses are hopeful the number successfully packing in will continue to rise.
Nationally, there were 103,431 quit attempts made with the help of NHS smoking cessation services, a 13 per cent reduction on 2012, and the first decrease seen in recent years.
Professor Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy, NHS Lothian said the local figures were very encouraging.
She said: “Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of ill-health and premature death in Scotland and we all have a duty to try and tackle it head on.
“It’s encouraging to see that more people are accessing the support services we provide as the evidence shows you are four times more likely to succeed with our help than doing it on your own.
“However, we know we need to do more to help increase the availability of services where there is most need and where we can have the most impact in improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Lothian.”
The number of pregnant women in the region who tried to quit also increased from 341 in 2012 to 405 in 2013. It is estimated around 1,650 women in Lothian smoke during pregnancy but nearly a quarter tried to pack it in, with support from NHS services.
It is hoped the proportion of smokers will continue to fall after the Evening News launched its Smoke Free Lothian campaign in March.
We teamed up with NHS Lothian with the aim of cutting the annual 1800 death toll further and reduce the £76.7 million it costs the health board to treat patients who indulge.
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of campaigning health charity ASH Scotland, welcomed the increase.
She said: “It’s great news that NHS Lothian are managing to increase the number of people accessing their support services.
“A 20-a-day smoker stopping now can enjoy fresh air over the summer, and have plenty of time to think about how they’ll spend the £1300 they will have saved by Christmas.”
Get some help to kick the habit
You can get information about your local stop smoking services from Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84, or visit www.canstopsmoking.com where you can also chat online with a trained adviser.
NHS stop smoking services are available throughout the Lothians. Trained, friendly advisers will help you by giving expert advice and practical support.
This can be in a group with other people who are also trying to give up smoking, or as one-to-one support. Advisers can help with choosing medication such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline (Champix) or bupropion (Zyban).
You can also access NHS support at any community pharmacy.