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Smoking Cessation

Public Health

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Smoking Cessation

ISD is responsible for the maintenance and development of the web-based 'National Smoking Cessation Database' including user training and support, and for the national monitoring of NHS smoking cessation services in Scotland, using the data collected via the national database.

National Smoking Cessation Database

In July 2005 ISD Scotland set up a national smoking cessation database to capture data on people presenting to NHS services in Scotland for help to stop smoking. This is a web-based system, accessible over the NHSnet, with over 300 registered users across Scotland. Users include: smoking cessation coordinators/managers in NHS boards; cessation practitioners; admin and public health analyst staff; and ISD-based IT, analyst and database management personnel.

The database is designed to collect the national minimum dataset for smoking cessation services (the development of which was led by ASH Scotland) plus additional information to meet local needs and to provide extra local functionality such as reports, letter generation and arranging client appointments. The national database is used by all 14 NHS Boards in Scotland. Previously NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde used their local system until the end of December 2015).

National Smoking Cessation Monitoring

The smoking cessation analyses published by ISD are based on the national minimum dataset (mds) for NHS cessation services in Scotland, which came into use in April 2005. The first annual monitoring report presented data for the 2006 calendar year. There was a review of the mds during 2007/2008, with the establishment of a multi-agency Expert Review Group, and a revised dataset introduced from January 2009. There have been minor alterations to the dataset since then.

The annual national cessation monitoring analyses produced by ISD, provide evidence of the reach and quit success of NHS funded smoking cessation services in Scotland. This includes evidence on the reach and targeting of specific groups, such as: those living in the most deprived communities, pregnant women, younger age groups and those living in rural/urban areas. They also allow monitoring of different interventions and pharmacotherapies used and their effectiveness in helping clients to quit. The analyses support service planning in NHS boards, providing evidence on service 'reach' across different client groups and geographical variations within boards, via Local Authority level analyses, as well as evidence on what works best in helping clients to quit smoking.

A series of HEAT targets for the NHS were published in 2007, including a target related to smoking cessation. This target was: 'Through smoking cessation services, support 8% of each NHS Board's smoking population in successfully quitting (at one month post quit) over the period 2008/09 to 2010/11'. This was measured through a separate target monitoring process, using data from the national cessation services monitoring and national database. Final data on performance against the target was published in September 2011.

From 1st April 2011, there was a successor smoking cessation HEAT target for 2011/12 to 2013/14 which had an explicit focus for the first time on inequalities in smoking rates. The target is 'To deliver at least 80,000 successful quits (at one month post quit) including 48,000 in the 40% most deprived within-Board SIMD areas over the three years ending March 2014'. Performance figures against the target were published in September 2014.

A new HEAT target was introduced from 1st of April 2014 with the emphasis on targeting people in deprived areas where smoking prevalence is highest. The target is to achieve at least 12,000 successful quits, at 12 weeks post quit, in the 40% most deprived within-Board SIMD areas (60% for island NHS Boards) over 1 year ending March 2015. Performance figures will be reported on 6th October 2015.

In April 2015 the previous HEAT target was replaced by a Local Delivery Plan (LDP) standard. This also focuses on targeting people in deprived areas where smoking prevalence is highest. The target was to achieve at least 7,278 successful quits, at 12 weeks post quit, in the 40% most deprived within-Board SIMD areas (60% for island NHS Boards) over 1 year ending March 2016. Performance figures against this standard are reported in the NHS Smoking Cessation Services (Scotland) 1 April to 31 March 2016.

Another LDP standard was introduced in April 2016. The standard was to achieve at least 9,404 successful quits, at 12 weeks post quit, in the 40% most deprived within-Board SIMD areas (60% for island NHS Boards) over 1 year ending March 2017.

The national monitoring analyses are used to support research, for example, the evaluation of the PHS (Public Health Service) pharmacy contract for smoking cessation services. ISD is a named partner in The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, a research group dedicated to preventing harm from smoking (one of five public health topic-based centres for excellence).

The national cessation monitoring and analyses published by ISD are widely used across Scotland, and further afield, with customers including: Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland policy leads; NHS board public health, health promotion and smoking cessation managers; researchers, analysts and planners in NHS boards; as well as cessation practitioners and administrative staff; colleagues at ASH Scotland; university academics & researchers; private sector customers (e.g. drugs companies) and the media.

Smoking Cessation Database Project Board

The Smoking Cessation Database Project Board meets annually to ensure the database and national cessation monitoring work undertaken by ISD continue to meet customer needs. The Project Board is multi-agency with representation from the Scottish Government; NHS Health Scotland; ASH Scotland; university academics; three NHS board cessation managers (one of whom also represents the Cessation Coordinators Group, see below) as well as ISD staff. The minutes from the Smoking Cessation Database Project Board's meetings are circulated to the National Smoking Cessation Coordinators Group.


For more on the national smoking cessation database please contact For more on the national smoking cessation monitoring contact


Since 2007, ISD have published an annual smoking cessation services monitoring report. The latest annual report Download PDF file [1.2 MB] was published on 4th October 2016. From 2009, this has been supplemented by an annual 'short report' to support smoking cessation HEAT target monitoring. The last 'short report' was published in October 2015. The reporting of the 2015/16 LDP standard is now being incorporated into the annual smoking cessation report.

Previous annual reports and supplementary short reports are available on the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) web site.

User Consultation

In October 2012 ISD undertook a 'user consultation' survey, giving people the opportunity to feed back with suggestions for change to future smoking cessation services monitoring publications as well as to give feedback on uses made of the statistics published. Summarised user feedback can be viewed in this document. Download PDF file [137 Kb]

Related additional resources

A guide to smoking cessation in Scotland and revised definition of smoking cessation services (2012)

The Minimum Dataset (April 2016) - for use/adaptation by smoking cessation services Download PDF file

Guidelines for using the Minimum dataset (April 2016) - essential reading on the items included in the MDS Download PDF file

Further information & background on MDS

Minimum Dataset background, rationale and FAQs - March 2010 Download PDF file

MDS Expert review group report - July 2008 Download PDF file

Report of Recommendations on Data Collection, Monitoring and Evaluation - December 2004 Download PDF file

National Electronic Database

ISD guidance on using the electronic cessation database - October 2016 Download PDF file

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