Keeping lungs healthy: smoking

We want all smokers to be able to use a stop smoking service, which can give them the treatment and support they need to quit.

We know that stop smoking services work. In fact, smokers are about 4 times more likely to quit with support from a stop smoking service.

A personal view: the impact of smoking 

Chris Dodd, 46, lives in Swindon. He has lived with asthma since childhood and was diagnosed with COPD in 2011. He began smoking in his teens and continued until 2014. He typically smoked a packet of 20 a day, more if he was enjoying a pint at the pub. “Most of the time I was reasonably healthy, despite my asthma,” says Chris. “I knew that smoking wasn’t good for me but so long as it didn’t appear to be affecting my daily life I thought I could continue.”  

But his lung health began to deteriorate in 2009 when he was treated for mycobacterium xenopi, a pulmonary infection. In 2011 he was diagnosed with COPD. This was the catalyst for his decision to quit smoking. After a number of false starts he succeeded in kicking the habit, supported by a stop smoking nurse at his local GP surgery. “It made a huge difference to have her support and experience,” says Chris. He began with e-cigarettes and nicotine lozenges, and gradually cut down the number of cigarettes. “The lozenges made me feel quite sick, which was good in a way because I wanted to stop using them as quickly as possible,” says Chris. He stopped smoking altogether within nine months.  

Chris says he doesn’t miss smoking, and has enjoyed a number of benefits, including long walks with his dog every day. Although other health issues have been a concern, Chris feels he has been better placed to deal with them because he no longer smokes. “I would encourage anyone to stop smoking, particularly if you have a lung health problem. It is not easy, but using a stop smoking service makes all the difference.” 

But at the moment these services are not available everywhere. The reality is that many services are being cut. There is a perception that stop smoking services are not as important as they used to be because the number of smokers has fallen. However, six million adults in England still smoke. We have a long way to go to make sure that people get help to stop smoking wherever they are, and particularly when in hospital. 

We think stop smoking services should be expanded, not cut. The government can make sure this happens by providing the funding that is needed.  

We want all health care professionals to be trained to give very brief advice on smoking. Very brief advice takes as little as 30 seconds and can be given by anyone, but it works best when it comes from a health care professional. It involves asking someone about their smoking and providing support to help that person stop. It is very simple and it works. 

Measures of success   

Increase in the number of people setting a quit date through an NHS stop smoking service from 274,021 in 2017/18, as monitored by NHS Digital.   

Increase in the number of people who have stopped smoking using an NHS stop smoking service, in both quitters who are self-reported and those who are carbon monoxide validated, as monitored by NHS Digital.   

Decrease in the total adult smoking rate from 14.9% to 12% or less by 2022, in line with the Tobacco Control Plan for England.  

All local authority areas to commission specialist stop smoking services open to all smokers, and all NHS trusts to run in-house stop smoking services for all patients, in line with NICE guidelines.  

Data need: Public Health England to start monitoring provision of local authority stop smoking services and NHS trust stop smoking services within one year.

A year-on-year increase in the number of health care professionals trained to provide very brief advice.  

Data need: Public Health England to collect data and establish a baseline within one year then Taskforce for Lung Health to specify a target percentage increase.