About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides an annual update on statistics from NHS smoking cessation services in Scotland for the period April 2019 to March 2020, including trend data from financial year April 2009 to March 2010 onwards. It is supplemented by a Tableau dashboard and Excel workbook.

Main points

Quit attempts from April 2019 to March 2020

  • From April 2019 to March 2020, the number of attempts to stop smoking made with the help of NHS smoking cessation services fell for the eighth consecutive year to 48,749. This is a 4.6% reduction from April 2018 to March 2019 and a 59.8% reduction from when the number of quit attempts were at their peak in April 2011 to March 2012. There are a number of factors which can influence the use of NHS smoking cessation services; these could include the use of electronic cigarettes and a reduction in smoking prevalence.
Image caption Number of quit attempts made in NHS stop smoking services, Scotland; financial years 2009 to 2010 through to 2019 to 2020
Chart showing the trend in the number of quit attempts between 2009/10 and 2019/20.


Success of quit attempts from April 2019 to March 2020

  • During April 2019 to March 2020, of those making a quit attempt 38.2% (18,598) reported that they were still not smoking at four weeks. This figure fell to 23.6% (11,499) at twelve weeks.
  • Of the 18,598 self-reported four-week quits, 10,789 (58.0%) were validated as not smoking through carbon monoxide testing, 428 (2.3%) were confirmed as smoking, while for 7,381 (39.7%) had no carbon monoxide reading taken or the result was unknown.


In July 2005 a national smoking cessation database was set up to capture data on people presenting to NHS services in Scotland for help to stop smoking. The database is designed to collect the national minimum dataset for smoking cessation services and is used by all 14 NHS boards in Scotland.

From July 2014 information about service activity and outcomes from pharmacy services was recorded through the smoking cessation support tool available within the Pharmacy Care Record. This forms part of the national data that are collected by smoking cessation services for each patient undertaking a quit attempt. The smoking cessation minimum data set is electronically submitted from Pharmacy Care Record to the national smoking cessation database.

Statistics are based on total 'quit attempts' made during the year, rather than the total number of people with a quit attempt, so may include repeat quit attempts for the same person.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS boards in Scotland had to alter their service delivery. This may have affected the delivery of NHS Stop Smoking Services. Scotland’s first positive test for COVID-19 was on 1 March 2020, and Scotland entered a period of lockdown from 23 March 2020. The number of quit attempts in March 2020 is lower compared to the same month in the previous year. It is not possible to identify the extent that Covid-19 countermeasures may have contributed to this reduction. As the information in this report is presented for the financial year 2019 to 2020 this should not have a large impact on the figures reported.

Further information

For information on the Local Delivery Plan (LDP) Standard statistics from April 2019 to March 2020, view the dashboard and publication summary.

Background to the national minimum dataset for smoking cessation is available on the smoking cessation page on the website.

Annual smoking cessation services monitoring reports have been published each year since 2007. These can be located at the reports and papers section of the ScotPHO website (external website).

The next release of this publication will be in October 2021, and will be released as "NHS Stop Smoking Services".

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.smokingcessation@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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