HEALTH: Smokers four times more likely to quit at special clinics

Britain's 12 million smokers are four times more likely to be able to kick the habit by attending a specialist clinic than by trying on their own, a report published yesterday says.

The report, in advance of tomorrow's No Smoking Day, says that the methods used by these clinics could be widely adopted by all smokers wanting to give up.

However, there are only about six hospital clinics in the UK, despite the fact that their annual costs are less than the cost of a single heart transplant - about pounds 20,000 a year compared with pounds 30,000 - said the report's author, Professor Robert West, of St George's Hospital Medical School in south-west London.

The four crucial ingredients are: making the commitment (setting a date to quit and giving up completely); making the break (by getting rid of all smoking materials); giving up with others; and by the use of nicotine replacement products.

A new nicotine replacement product is about to become available - the nicotine inhaler (right) - to add to the nicotine patch and gum. Already licensed in Sweden, Denmark and Italy, the device, which resembles a cigarette holder, is being tried on 500 smokers at St George's Hospital and the Royal London Hospital.

Getting serious about stopping smoking, Munro and Forster Communications, 0171-439 7177