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Use of aids for smoking cessation and alcohol reduction: A population survey of adults in England

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Eileen KanerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: It is important for policy planning to chart the methods smokers and high-risk drinkers use to help them change their behaviour. This study assessed prevalence of use, and characteristics of users, of support for smoking cessation and alcohol reduction in England.Methods: Data were used from the Smoking and Alcohol Toolkit Studies, which involve monthly face-to-face computer-assisted interviews of adults aged 16+ in England. We included data collected between June 2014 and July 2015 on 1600 smokers who had made at least one quit attempt and 911 high-risk drinkers (defined as scores >8+ on the full AUDIT or 5+ on questions 1-3 of the AUDIT-C) who had made an attempt to cut down in the past 12 months. Participants provided information on their socio-demographic characteristics and use of aids during their most recent quit attempt including pharmacotherapy, face-to-face counselling, telephone support, self-help materials (digital and printed), and complementary medicine.Results: A total of 60.3% of smokers used aids in the past year, compared with just 14.9% of high-risk drinkers. Use of pharmacotherapy was high among smokers and very low among drinkers (56.0%(versus)1.2%). Use of other aids was low for both behaviours: face-to-face counselling (2.6%(versus)4.8%), self-help materials (1.4%(versus)4.1%) and complementary medicine (1.0%(versus)0.5%). Use of aids was more common among smokers aged 25-54 compared with 16-24 year olds (25-34, OR(adj)1.49, p = 0.012; 35-44, OR(adj)1.93, p < 0.001; 35-44, OR(adj)1.93, p < 0.001; 45-54, OR(adj)1.66, p = 0.008), with cigarette consumption > 10 relative to < 1 (10-20, OR(adj)2.47, p = 0.011; > 20, OR(adj)4.23, p = 0.001), and less common among ethnic minorities (OR(adj)0.69, p = 0.026). For alcohol reduction, use of aids was higher among ethnic minority groups (OR(adj)2.41; p = 0.015), and those of social-grade D/E relative to AB (OR(adj)2.29, p = 0.012& OR(adj)3.13, p < 0.001).Conclusion: In England, the use of pharmacotherapy is prevalent for smoking cessation but not alcohol reduction. Other aids are used at a low rate, with face-to-face counselling being more common for alcohol reduction than smoking cessation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Beard E, Brown J, Michie S, Kaner E, Meier P, West R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Public Health

Year: 2016

Volume: 16

Online publication date: 08/12/2016

Acceptance date: 22/11/2016

Date deposited: 15/02/2017

ISSN (print): 1471-2458

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-3862-7


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