An evaluation of a smoking cessation service by Sheffield researchers highlights the importance of flexible support to engage with different groups and support their individual needs.

To mark national No Smoking Day (13th March 2024) we are sharing recent research by Dr Duncan Gillespie and Dr Nicholas Woodrow and their evaluation of North Yorkshire Council’s Living Well Smokefree Service, which involves a team of advisors offering support to smokers in the region to help them quit.

One of the key findings of their evaluation report was that service users appreciated flexibility and being able to choose the form of support that best suited their needs. For instance, choosing remote support using phone or video call appointments was highly beneficial for some as it was easier to fit around their existing schedules. It also helped in cases where people felt stigmatised by their smoking, such as pregnant people, and those who found it difficult to attend appointments due to mental health or long-term physical health conditions.

Dr Woodrow commented: “It’s clear that remote provision offers increased service access, reach and flexibility which supports engagement. The vast majority of people selected remote support, but face to face appointments were still favoured and needed by some people, showing the need for different support options to be available.”

Service staff also appreciated remote support appointments as it enabled them to offer support to a greater number of smokers. However, they noted the importance of face-to-face appointments as these allow monitoring of carbon monoxide levels to validate quits and empower clients to continue their abstinence. Staff also reported that building relationships with clients could be more challenging during remote appointments compared with in-person meetings.

The researchers interviewed service users and staff and analysed routinely collected service data between September 2022 and March 2023, aiming to assess any differences in outcomes for clients receiving face-to-face support, remote support or blended support where clients received a combination of in-person and remote appointments.

The evaluation was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) through their Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) scheme which funds evaluations of public health interventions being run by local government organisations across the UK.

Talking about the impact of the evaluation on the Living Well Smokefree Service, Service Manager Scott Chapman said: “It’s been a real pleasure to work with a team that can develop this research with us and it’s going to form a big part of the thinking behind how we change and transform the stop smoking service in North Yorkshire moving into the future.”

Further reading

Evaluation of the North Yorkshire County Council Living Well Smokefree Service – information about the evaluation including background, methods and results

SCHARR Communicable Research podcast: In this episode, ‘Quitting Cigarettes: Making cessation support inclusive and equitable’, Andy Tattersall is joined by Dr Duncan Gillespie and Dr Nick Woodrow from the University of Sheffield alongside Mark O’Brien and Scott Chapman from North Yorkshire Council to discuss the Living Well Smokefree service evaluation. Listen on Spotify |  Apple Podcasts  |  University of Sheffield Player

Woodrow N, Gillespie D, Kitchin L et al. (2024) Reintroducing face-to-face support alongside remote support to form a hybrid stop smoking service in England: a formative mixed methods evaluation BMC Public Health DOI: