Statistics on Smoking Cessation Services in Northern Ireland: Four week follow up figures for 2017/18, and 52 week follow up figures for 2016/17

Date published: 15 August 2018

The Department of Health today published statistical tables relating to smoking cessation services for 2017/18.

Smoking Cessation Services in Northern Ireland

The statistical tables provide four-week follow-up information on people reporting to smoking cessation services during the year 2017/18, in addition to figures for the 52-week follow-up of people who signed up to the programme in 2016/17.

Key Findings

  • A total of 15,461 people set a quit date through the smoking cessation services in 2017/18. This is a decrease of 3,176 (17%) on the previous year. There has been a decline in the number of people accessing smoking cessation services over the last five years, from 26,870 in 2013/14. Cigarette smoking prevalence has also fallen in recent years (source: Health Survey Northern Ireland).
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was the most popular therapeutic intervention, with 71% of those who set a quit date having used this therapy.
  • At the four-week follow-up 9,073 people reported that they had successfully quit, 59% of those setting a quit date. The quit rate has been broadly similar over the last five years.
  • The four-week success rate was 61% for males and 57% for females.
  • Of the 178 young people (aged 11 to 17) who set a quit date, 48% reported to have successfully quit at the four-week follow-up, 25% indicated that they were still smoking, and 26% could not be contacted for the follow-up.
  • Success at four weeks increased with age, from 48% for those aged 11 to 17, to 64% for those aged 60 and over.
  • Of the 15,280 adults who set a quit date, a third (32%) were from the most deprived quintile and a further quarter (24%) from the second most deprived quintile. One in ten (10%) were from the least deprived quintile. The four-week success rate was 57% for those in the most deprived quintile compared with 61% in the least deprived quintile.
  • Mirroring the overall pattern, 31% of the 905 women who were recorded as being pregnant were from the most deprived quintile compared with 8% from the least deprived quintile. At the four-week follow-up, 62% of pregnant women reported to have successfully quit, 24% had not quit, and 13% were not able to be contacted.

At the 52-week follow-up of those that had quit at four weeks in 2016/17, over a third (36%) reported still being tobacco free, while a quarter (26%) had resumed smoking, and a further 39% 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. Definitions 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 five to six 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 at:

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


4. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office 028 9052 0575 or email Out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt  

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