Delivering the English smoking treatment services

Linda Bauld, Tim Coleman, Catherine Adams, Elspeth Pound, Janet Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This paper describes how smoking treatment services in England were delivered beyond the initial set-up phase and explores key factors affecting their development. Services were expected to treat smokers in line with the evidence-base and were issued with government guidance regarding the type of interventions that should be offered. One factor complicating this was the issue of service funding. Funding was initially issued for a 3-year period and although this was extended on two occasions, these extensions were both announced close to the end of funding periods. Objectives: To critically assess key elements in the delivery of the English cessation services, including the nature of treatments offered and the impact of short-term funding on staffing. Methods:  A national postal survey of smoking cessation coordinators in April 2002. Semi-structured interviews with 50 smoking cessation staff in two health regions in autumn 2001, followed by further interviews with 28 staff in the same areas in the autumn of 2002. Results: Treatment was delivered in a wide range of venues, ranging from primary care to local authority-owned premises such as town halls and libraries. Most services offered both one-to-one and group support, although interviewees reported an increase in demand for one-to-one support from clients. Pharmacotherapies were used widely; by 2002, 99% of coordinators reported that their advisers recommended nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to clients, and 95% bupropion. However, prior to April 2001 bupropion was available on prescription, but NRT was not and this variable access to pharmacotherapies posed problems for services. Coordinators reported that the short-term nature of funding made recruiting and retaining staff difficult and interviews revealed that they believed a longer period of protected funding was required for services to demonstrate their effectiveness. Conclusions: As English smoking treatment services developed, lessons were learned that could inform the development of services in other health systems. First, early guidance from government can encourage services to adhere to evidence-based treatment. Secondly, treatment needs to be accessible to smokers and thus there must be a flexible approach to implementation at local level. Thirdly, the availability of nicotine addiction and behavioural therapies should be coordinated to minimize barriers and maximize uptake. Finally, fixed-term funding can exacerbate staff recruitment and retention difficulties and countries establishing treatment services need to consider carefully the initial funding period that is required for stable services to become established within their health systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
Issue numberSupplement 2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2005


  • health service development
  • health service funding
  • nicotine addiction therapies
  • smoking cessation


Dive into the research topics of 'Delivering the English smoking treatment services'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this