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Cost to the NHS of helping smokers to quit has risen by two thirds

The cost to the NHS of helping smokers kick the habit has risen from £148 to £244 per person, official figures have shown.

The NHS in England spent £7m more on stop smoking services but the number of people quitting has dropped, the NHS Information Centre has found.

Between April and September last year £33m was spent on smoking services compared to £26m in the same period in 2007/8.

It means the cost per quitter has rocketed.

Fewer people tried to quit between April and September last year than the previous year, mostly because the introduction of the smoking ban in July 2007 encouraged record numbers to sign up to stop smoking services.

On average around half of those who set a quit date through the NHS services are still smoke free after four weeks.

Tim Straughan, Chief executive of The NHS Information Centre said: “The report shows the NHS is spending more than ever to support people to quit through its Stop Smoking Services.

“The numbers who kicked the habit in April to September 2008 were substantially lower than in 2007 when the smoking ban came in. However, they were still higher than the same period in 2006 which was a more typical year to compare them with.”

The majority of people quitting were given nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum or inhalers, while one in five received the drug Champix and two per cent received Zyban.