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Smoking ban already helping people to quit

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by Cancer Research UK | News

8 March 2006

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One in five GPs has already seen an increased number of patients asking about quitting smoking since the smoking ban vote just three weeks ago – according to a new poll published today (Wednesday) by Cancer Research UK. Although the law will not come into effect until summer 2007, the results show that it is already having an impact on the nation’s health by encouraging many more smokers to quit. The results come on this year’s No Smoking Day, a traditional date for many thousands of smokers to quit. Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “This first indication that the ban is helping people quit is exciting. The experiences of countries that have already gone smokefree show that bans help many smokers quit.” Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at Cancer Research UK, said: “The great majority of smokers want to quit but put it off because they know it will be difficult. These findings reflect the importance of new government policies in triggering action. This should be a bumper year for No Smoking Day, which will build on the momentum of the new law. For every two smokers who stop smoking on average one miserable premature death is averted.”

The new figures coincide with a survey of smokers’ opinions published by the charity No Smoking Day, which estimates that up to 2.8 million smokers in the UK will quit because of the ban. Online polling company, Doctors.net.uk, was commissioned by the charity to carry out the poll. They surveyed 583 GPs. Over a fifth, 117, said that they had seen a rise in the number of patients enquiring about quitting smoking since MPs voted for a complete ban on 14 February. The GPs were also invited to enter an anonymous discussion. Interestingly, most of the comments anticipate many more smokers seeking advice on how to quit in the run up to the ban: “I work in Scotland where the smoking ban is somewhat more advanced but now smoking cessation has become the single most common reason to seek advice for at a GP or nurse consultation. The long term impact will be very interesting.”

“When given a deadline by which they must do something most people will leave any action until the last possible date.”

“Whereas in the past people would have wanted to stop smoking before a milestone age, now they are happy to keep on smoking until compelled to stop by the ban in public places.”

“There will be a rush but just not yet.”ENDS