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Study: Interactive website helps poorer smokers quit

A study has found that people on a lower income are a third (36%) more to likely to quit smoking if they use a new interactive StopAdvisor website in place of other services.

The University College London's (UCL) randomised control study looked at 4,613 smokers of which 2,142 were defined as being on a lower income and had never worked, were long-term unemployed or from routine or manual occupations.

Lead author at UCL's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Dr Jamie Brown, said: “Going to see a specialist stop-smoking advisor of the kind that is provided free of charge and easily accessible through one's GP or the NHS SmokeFree website remains the best way of stopping smoking.

“But for the many smokers who do not want to do this, StopAdvisor should improve their chances of success”. 

Among the less affluent smokers, 8.3% of people attempting to quit smoking succeeded using the StopAdvisor, in comparison to 6.1% who tried using the static information website.

In the higher income group there was no differences in quitting rates, with around 12% succeeding in smoking cessation, regardless of the website they used.

UCL's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Professor Robert West thinks the new website will have a vital “impact on public health”

He went onto say: “An effect of as little as 1% on six-month sustained abstinence rates would result in at least three additional years of life for every hundred 40-year-old smokers who use the resource”.

StopAdvisor website was designed with particular intent for less affluent smokers by undertaking user-testing exclusively with this group of people.

It aims to mimic the kind of support provided by expert stop-smoking advisors, a free-of-charge service offered on the NHS.

Tobacco Control Programme Lead at Public Health England, Martin Dockrell, thinks it will help reduce “unacceptable levels of health inequality”.

He said: “Smoking causes half of the difference in life expectancy between richest and poorest. That is why StopAdvisor is so important: it gives Public Health England a way of helping more smokers quit more effectively while also reducing unacceptable levels of health inequality”.