Access to smoking cessation

Sheffield contactHannah Jordan

What are the aims of this project

Given the known benefits of stopping smoking at any age, our research aims to investigate whether smoking cessation services and advice to stop smoking are equitably offered to older adults. We want to find out whether older people seek out support to quit smoking, whether they are offered smoking cessation advice by their GP, what kinds of support to quit they accept, and whether they eventually do quit smoking. We will explore whether this is different from the experience of younger adults.

Why is this important

We know that there are health benefits to quitting smoking even after many years. Quitting leads to improvements in blood pressure and breathing within hours or days, improvements in circulation within weeks, and a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer within 5-10 years. Large studies have already found that smokers who quit as late as age 60-65 gain around 2-3 extra years of life compared to continuing smokers.

However, there is some concern that older smokers do not access support to quit. Research suggests that this might be because doctors are reluctant to give cessation advice or prescribe medication to older patients. However it may also be due to reluctance on the part of older people to demand services, or to recognise the benefits of quitting.

How will the research be carried out

  1. We will use routinely collected, anonymous data on the use of smoking cessation services and the proportion of current smokers in the population to investigate the relationship between the use of NHS smoking cessation services and the need for them in different age groups.
  2. We will use the ‘Smoking Toolkit Survey’ to investigate the detailed use of smoking cessation services by smokers of different ages, including motivation to quit, the use of aids to stop smoking and factors such as socioeconomic deprivation, gender and


March 2015 – March 2017

Who is undertaking the research?

The research is led by members of the NIHR SPHR team here at the University of Sheffield: Professor Sarah Salway, Professor Nick Payne, Melanie Rimmer, in partnership with Professor Yoav Ben-Shlomo of Bristol University,

How are stakeholders being engaged?

At the start of the project we consulted with a number of public health practitioners. Early results have been shared with an interest group in Sheffield for comment.

What will be the outputs from the study?

Presentations and papers from the project will be listed here