Success rates for stopping smoking

18th November 2010

I have been helping people to stop smoking in Brighton and central London for over 15 years now and one of the questions I often get asked is 'What are your success rates'?

Factually, it is almost impossible to be able to provide an accurate figure. Firstly, what determines success? At what point do you measure the success of an individual in quitting smoking? Is it when they have been free from cigarettes for 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 12 months perhaps? If someone hasn't been smoking for 4 weeks but is still using nicotine patches should this be described as success? What about someone who was smoking 60 cigarettes per day but now only smokes on social occasions?

According to the NHS stop smoking service , 49% of people who set a quit date through their services had successfully quit at the 4 week follow-up for the year 2009/10; source

Apart from the fact that 51% didn't succeed in stopping smoking for 4 weeks what happened to the 49% after 4 weeks and how many subsequently re-lapsed. The fact that the NHS don't publish figures beyond 4 weeks suggests this figure could be high!

I have also seen advertisements placed by Hypnotherapists and other stop smoking services quoting success rates as high as 95%. I would be amazed if anyone can prove these figures.

One of the problems in determining success is maintaining contact with people for a long period of time after they have stopped smoking (people move on and some don't want to be constantly reminded of something they used to do). Secondly you are reliant on your clients being truthfull with their feedback. They might not want to admit they have failed.

So what do you do and how do you decide on whats the best stop smoking service for you?

Firstly, do your research and find out whats available, ask your friends,family, and colleagues for a recommendation and ask questions of the potential service provider such as:-

  • How long have you been specialising in smoking cessation?
  • What methods and approach do you use?
  • Do you provide any post therapy support?
  • Would I be suitable for your approach and why?

Expect the stop smoking consultant/practitioner to ask you questions about your smoking habit; such as how long have you been smoking , how many do you smoke, do you smoke habitually every day or are you just a social smoker and how motivated are you to stop smoking etc?

It is estimated that 21% of adults in the UK still smoke which equates to 10 million smokers of which 6.5 million(65%) wanted to stop in 2008. source

We can't compete with the advertising budgets of the NHS and drugs companies so we rely on word of mouth recommendations, therefore, if we weren't being successful we wouldn't still be in business!

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