Just a fifth of people being given assistance for smoking through NHS Tayside successfully give up the habit.
New figures have revealed that only 20% of people who took part in the health board’s smoking cessation service were smoke-free after 12 weeks in 2015/16 — the most recent date available.
A total of 4,468 people utilised a service in that period, with 1,466 people managing to remain smoke-free after four weeks.
However, that number dropped to 820 people who had still quit smoking at the 12-week mark.
The cost of the programme was £485,547 for the year.
Andrew Radley, NHS Tayside’s consultant in public health pharmacy, said that despite the relatively low success rate, the health board had made progress in helping people to quit smoking in the longer term — and also in discouraging people from starting in the first place.
He said: “Most people now realise that smoking harms their health and most smokers would like to stop smoking.
“We are delighted by the large numbers of young people who have chosen not to take up smoking in recent years.
“The attraction of this expensive and addictive habit is decreasing and we are determined to make every effort to help people stop smoking.
“However, we recognise that stopping smoking is often challenging and that it may require several attempts as well as the support and participation of family and friends to achieve this.
“NHS Tayside has offered support for people wanting to give up smoking for a number of years now and several thousand Tayside smokers have used our services to achieve a smoke-free life.
“It was estimated that there were 82,800 smokers in Tayside in 2009/10 (20.7%).
“In 2015/16 that number was estimated to have reduced to 76,070 (18.3%).
“Smoking cessation is one of the most cost-effective treatments offered by the NHS and provides very good value for money given the enormous damage smoking does to people’s health, the huge costs incurred by the NHS from smoking-related illnesses and the immediate and long-term health benefits for people who quit and those around them.”