Statistics on Smoking Cessation Services in Northern Ireland: 4 Week Follow-up Figures for 2019/20, and 52 Week Follow-up Figures for 2018/19

Date published: 08 September 2020

The Department of Health today published statistical tables relating to smoking cessation services for 2019/20.

The statistical tables provide 4-week follow-up information on people reporting to smoking cessation services during the year 2019/20, in addition to figures for the 52-week follow-up of people who signed up to the programme in 2018/19.

Key Findings

  • A total of 13,847 people set a quit date through the smoking cessation services in 2019/20, a similar number to the previous year (13,860). Prior to this, the number of people accessing smoking cessation services had been in decline over the last five years, from 21,285 in 2015/16. Cigarette smoking prevalence has also fallen over a similar time period from 23% in 2015/16 to 18% in 2018/19 (source: Health Survey Northern Ireland).
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was the most popular therapeutic intervention, with 67% of those who set a quit date having used this therapy.
  • At the 4-week follow-up 7,755 people (56% of those setting a quit date) reported that they had successfully quit, 21% had not quit and 23% could not be contacted for the follow-up.
  • The 4-week success rate was 58% for males and 54% for females.
  • Of the 120 young people (aged 11 to 17) who set a quit date, 46% reported to have successfully quit at the 4-week follow-up, 33% indicated that they were still smoking, and 21% could not be contacted for the follow-up.
  • Success at 4 weeks increased with age, from 46% for those aged 11 to 17, to 62% for those aged 60 and over.
  • A third (31%) of the 13,723 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 53% for those in the most deprived quintile compared with 58% in the least deprived quintile.
  • Of the 853 women who were recorded as being pregnant, 28% were from the most deprived quintile compared with 8% from the least deprived quintile. At the 4-week follow-up, 60% of pregnant women reported to have successfully quit, 21% had not quit, and 19% were not able to be contacted.
  • At the 52-week follow-up of those that had quit at 4 weeks in 2018/19, a third (34%) reported still being tobacco free, while a quarter (23%) had resumed smoking, and a further 43% 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. It should be noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to have had an impact on the number of people accessing services and setting a quit date during March 2020; the number is less than half that recorded in the previous year (605 in March 2019/20 compared with 1,302 in March 2018/19). It is also likely to have had an impact on the number of people that were contacted for follow-up during this time period.

3. 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 release.
  • 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.

4. This publication is available online at:

5. Additional information is available from:

Public Health Information and Research Branch

Information and Analysis Directorate

Department of Health

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Belfast BT4 3SQ

Telephone: 028 9052 0035



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