ASH Scotland urges Scottish Government to increase cessation support for 730,000 Scots who smoke

21 February 2023

Health charity urges Scottish Government to increase cessation support for 730,000Scots who smoke, following dramatic drop in quit attempts

ASH Scotland is urging the Scottish Government to boost specialist cessation services for the estimated 730,000 Scots who smoke, after it emerged that quit smoking attempts have dropped by more than a third compared to the year before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

The latest annual NHS Stop Smoking Services Scotland report (April 2021 to March 2022) published by Public Health Scotland today (Tuesday 21 February 2023) reveals there were 31,359 quit smoking attempts, around 17,000 fewer than the 48,749 in 2019/20.

With smoking continuing to cause 100,000 hospitalisations and 9,000 deaths in Scotland each year, and the 2034 target for the country to be tobacco-free on track to be missed by an estimated 16 years, ASH Scotland says it is vitally important that the Scottish Government and health boards consider the promotion and expansion of the country’s smoking cessation services as top priorities.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of the health charity ASH Scotland, said: “It is alarming that these latest figures show stop smoking attempts with NHS support have fallen for the 10th consecutive year and by almost 75% since the peak of 121,385 attempts in 2011/12.

“At a time when the health service is under considerable pressure and smoking continues to be the biggest preventable cause of illness and death, swift action is required by the Scottish Government and health boards to ensure NHS Quit Your Way services are promoted and better resourced to reach more of the two-thirds of Scots who smoke and want to quit.

“Quit Your Way services, which provide specialist person-centred smoking cessation support, must be boosted as a matter of urgency to continue their critical role helping people who have the highest smoking rates, such as those living in our most deprived communities, and experiencing mental health problems, to leave tobacco behind.”

ASH Scotland research suggests that smoking prevalence for people experiencing mental health problems in Scotland’s poorest communities is between 40 to 50 per cent, comparable to the country’s general population smoking rates of the mid-1970s.

People aiming to give up smoking can call Quit Your Way’s free helpline on 0800 84 84 84 or create a quit plan at

Public Health Scotland’s 2021/22 Annual Stop Smoking publication can be found at

ASH Scotland’s Closing the Inequality Gap: Smoking and Mental Health report, published in 2022, can be downloaded at