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CIGS QUITTERS' PS300 DRAG ON NHS; Campaigners: Cost a small price to pay compared to long-term savings.

Byline: BOB HAYWOOD Special Reporter sundaymercury@sundaymercury.net

THE cost to the health service of stopping smoking in Birmingham has been revealed as PS300 per quitter.

Public health campaigners say the figure may be seen as high, but that it is a tiny puff of smoke compared with the ultimate savings to the NHS.

Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust has revealed that in 2012-13 a total of 8,709 men and women gave up the weed at a total cost of just over PS2.6 million - so the average cost of stubbing it out was PS300.33 per patient.

According to Department of Health guidelines, a quitter is 'someone who was still tobacco-free at four weeks after their initial commitment to give up'.

However, follow-up checks are carried out in Birmingham at three, six, and 12 months to see if they have stayed off the weed.

Jamila Hussain, operational manager of Birmingham Stop Smoking service, told the Sunday Mercury: "The average long-term cost to the NHS of treating smoking-related illness is PS1,700 per person.

"When you add the healthcare costs together with social costs, such as loss of economic output due to sickness absence and smoking breaks, fires, second-hand smoke and cleaning up after smokers, estimates put the total cost at over PS13 billion a year.

"So spending just a few hundred pounds on an individual smoker to try to help them quit for good is not only a great investment in that individual's health and wellbeing but is also a great investment for the whole community.

"Giving up smoking is not easy but with help and support from your stop smoking service, you are up to four times more likely to stop than with willpower alone."

But the Sunday Mercury has learned that the cost to the NHS of quitting varies from area to area in the West Midlands. Birmingham is in the middle of the range in the region, with figures of PS244 to PS428 per quitter.

Of those who turned to the NHS for advice on quitting between April 2012 and March 2013, a total of 15,995 across the Black Country, Staffordshire and Worcestershire successfully quit. Stop smoking services offered included one-to-one support sessions, advice on nicotine replacement therapy such as gum and patches, and a scherme for pregnant women and their families.

Other services offers to help people give up the habit include encouraging smokers to have their lung age tested; monitoring of carbon monoxide levels, and free advice on how to plan ahead and quit smoking for good. Councils have now taken on responsibility from the NHS for public health.

In Wolverhampton, 1,392 people finished and the cost was PS389,000. In South Staffordshire the bill was PS1,225,000 for 4,149 quitters.

Worcestershire Primary Care Trust paid out PS606,000 as 2,486 gave up.

The average West Midlands cost per person was PS348 and the total cost PS6,173,000.

For advice and support on how to quit in Birmingham, call 0800 052 5855 or text 'QUIT' to 80800.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 2, 2014
Words:510
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