Suffolk smokers stubbing out their habit

FIGURES today revealed that the number of people who quit smoking in Suffolk increased as the national smoking ban loomed.

FIGURES today revealed that the number of people who quit smoking in Suffolk increased as the national smoking ban loomed.

Between April and June this year, 980 smokers in the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) area registered as quitters, compared to 619 in the same period last year.

The fall came as the government prepared to introduce its ban on smoking in public places, and new legislation making it illegal to sell tobacco products to those under 18.

The rise is also put down to the introduction of Champix on the NHS - a new drug which reduces the craving for nicotine, the symptoms of withdrawal and the satisfaction of a cigarette.

Hilary Andrews, Suffolk Stop Smoking Service coordinator, said: “The figures have continued to be good through the summer, too.

“It's because of the smoking ban, the fact more people know about our service, and people learning they can access treatment on the NHS.

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“Those, plus the new treatment available, have put it at the top of people's agenda this year. I wouldn't be surprised if things slow down but we hope people still come to us as our mission is to be there for smokers, as most smokers don't want to smoke.

“We have been working very hard to increase accessibility to help and support more people to quit using the NHS.

“Now we are doing very well compared to other PCTs in the region, when this time last year we weren't.

“We don't mind if people come to us again and again, most take two to three attempts to stop.”

The figures were released by the Department of Health and show between April and June, 11,480 people set a quit date with their NHS Stop Smoking Service in the east of England, with 6,184 successfully quitting four weeks later.

During the same period, the national NHS Smoking Helpline took 52,563 calls.

The NHS Smokefree campaign has launched a DVD to help smokers choose which of the services offered by the NHS will give them the best chance of beating the habit.

Beelin Baxter, regional tobacco policy manager in the east of England, said: “Research shows that smokers are up to four times more likely to quit successfully if they use support than by relying on willpower alone.”

Would-be-quitters can order a copy of the DVD by calling the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 1690169.

The Suffolk Stop Smoking Service can be contacted on 0800 0856037.

N Have you quit smoking? How did you do it? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail