Infographic: Smoking cessation prescriptions fall 35% in 10 years

Healthcare professionals are handing out fewer prescriptions for medications to help people who want to quit, as smoking rates fall to the lowest on record and smokers increasingly turn to e-cigarettes.

Rates of smoking have declined significantly in recent years, according to the HSCIC's latest statistics on smoking. In 2014, 19% of adults in Great Britain smoked, down from a peak of 46% in 1974.

Average consumption among smokers in 2014 was 11 cigarettes a day – the lowest daily cigarette consumption since surveying began, when it was 16 cigarettes a day.

By contrast, use of e-cigarettes is increasing. In 2015, 4% of adults in Great Britain were current e-cigarette users - an estimated 2.2 million people in total. The majority of e-cigarette users (53%) said their main reason for use was as an aid to stop smoking.

Prescribing of smoking cessation medications varied by region of the country. The North of England dispensed the most prescription items, at 416,000. More than 400,000 items were also dispensed in the Midlands and the East of England. London dispensed the lowest number of items (175,000).

The average net ingredient cost per item for all pharmacotherapy items was £28. The average per item varied from £24 for nicotine replacement therapy to £34 for varenicline and £38 for bupropion.

This month sees the return of the annual Stoptober campaign, which encourages smokers to quit their habit for the month of October as studies show those who abstain for 28 days are five times more likely to remain smoke-free for good.

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