Modelling the short term consequences of smoking cessation in England

December 04, 2000

Modelling the short term consequences of smoking cessation in England on the hospitalisation rates for acute myocardial infarction and stroke 2000; 9:397-400

The UK government may be taking the soft option on cutting smoking rates, suggests a study in Tobacco Control. A more aggressive policy, such as that deployed in California, could more than double the cost savings to the NHS and almost triple the reductions in the number of hospital admissions for heart attacks and stroke, finds the research.

Coronary artery disease currently costs the NHS around £1000 million, much of which is attributable to smoking.

Using published data from health surveys and national statistics on death rates and population growth, the authors worked out the likely cost savings and health benefits for the NHS in England from achieving the target set out in the government's white paper on smoking cessation, published in 1998. This aims for a reduction in smoking rates among adults from 28 per cent in 1996 to 26 per cent by 2005, and then to 24 per cent in 2010.

They applied the same data to the more ambitious targets set for California. These specify that smoking rates among adults be reduced from 28 per cent in 1996 to 22 per cent in 2005, and then to 17 per cent in 2010-a 1 per cent reduction every year.

The results show that the UK targets would mean over 6,000 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks and almost 5,000 fewer for strokes by 2010, saving the NHS £524 million. Adopting the Californian targets would avoid more than 14,500 admissions for heart attack and over 11,000 for stroke, saving the NHS £1.14 billion.

Dr Bhash Naidoo, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London.

BMJ Specialty Journals

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