Publication of 'Statistics on smoking cessation services in Northern Ireland 2018/19'

Date published: 11 September 2019

The Department of Health today published statistical tables relating to smoking cessation services for 2018/19.

Smoking Cessation Statistics Image

The statistical tables provide 4-week follow-up information on people reporting to smoking cessation services during the year 2018/19, in addition to figures for the 52-week follow-up of people who signed up to the programme in 2017/18.

Key Findings

  • A total of 13,860 people set a quit date through the smoking cessation services in 2018/19. This is a decrease of 1,601 (10%) on the previous year. There has been a decline in the number of people accessing smoking cessation services over the last five years, from 21,779 in 2014/15. Cigarette smoking prevalence has also fallen over a similar time period from 22% in 2014/15 to 18% in 2017/18 (source: Health Survey Northern Ireland).
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was the most popular therapeutic intervention, with 70% of those who set a quit date having used this therapy.
  • At the 4-week follow-up 8,032 people (58% of those setting a quit date) reported that they had successfully quit. The quit rate has remained broadly similar over the last five years.
  • The 4-week success rate was 60% for males and 56% for females.
  • Of the 240 young people (aged 11 to 17) who set a quit date, 38% reported to have successfully quit at the 4-week follow-up, 42% indicated that they were still smoking, and 21% could not be contacted for the follow-up.
  • Success at 4 weeks increased with age, from 38% for those aged 11 to 17, to 62% for those aged 60 and over.
  • A third (31%) of the 13,606 adults who set a quit date were from the most deprived quintile while a further quarter (24%) were from the second most deprived quintile. This compares with one in ten (10%) from the least deprived quintile. The 4-week success rate was 56% for those in the most deprived quintile compared with 63% in the least deprived quintile.
  • Mirroring the overall pattern, 31% of the 771 women who were recorded as being pregnant were from the most deprived quintile compared with 8% from the least deprived quintile. At the 4-week follow-up, 61% of pregnant women reported to have successfully quit, 25% had not quit, and 14% were not able to be contacted.
  • At the 52-week follow-up of those that had quit at 4 weeks in 2017/18, over a third (37%) reported still being tobacco free, while a quarter (25%) had resumed smoking, and a further 38% could not be contacted.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This information is supplied to the Public Health Agency by providers of smoking cessation services (e.g. pharmacist, GP, nurse). The Department of Health receives a copy of the validated dataset from the Public Health Agency.
  2. Notes relating to the statistics release are detailed below:
  • Brief interventions by General Practitioners (GPs) and other health professionals. These will be provided in the normal course of the professional’s duties rather than comprising a ‘new’ service, and monitoring information about clients in receipt of such interventions is not therefore required centrally. Thus, this information is not captured in this bulletin.
  • Specialist smoking cessation services run by smoking cessation specialist(s) who have received training for this role. The service will be evidence based and offer intensive treatment, usually in the form of one-to-one or group support over the course of 5 to 6 weeks, including the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Such a service may be situated in a major hospital or clinic, although it could be based in a community setting, have outreach clinics or operate on a peripatetic basis.
  • Quit date. It is recognised that in certain cases some time may need to be spent with clients before they are ready to set a quit date. However, only actual quit attempts are counted for monitoring purposes.
  • Success. On the basis that the clinical viewpoint tends to be that a client should not be counted as a ‘failure’ if he/she has smoked in the difficult first days after the quit date, a client is counted as having successfully quit smoking if he/she has not smoked at all since two weeks after the quit date.
  • Four-week and 52-week follow-up. All clients should be followed up at four weeks and those who self-report as having quit at this stage should be followed up again at 52 weeks.

3. This publication is available online.

4. Additional information is available from:

Public Health Information and Research Branch
Information and Analysis Directorate
Department of Health
Annexe 2
Castle Buildings
Belfast BT4 3SQ

Telephone: 028 9052 0035


5. For media queries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email . For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110  and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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