The study examined the effectiveness of NHS smoking cessation services in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. These areas have populations dominated by manual workers and contain some of the worst health and deprivation in the country.
Research showed that smoking cessation services in the region for 2003-4 reduced smoking rates by 0.1%-0.3%. If the trend continues, the study predicts that Stop-Smoking Services may deliver less than 1% of the 2010 target of a 5% fall in smoking prevalence.
Government targets on reducing smoking ignore the health inequalities gap says the author, which is made more disturbing given the poorer health of these communities.
Despite being the focus of targets to reduce cancer and circulatory disease in these populations, the failure to include health inequalities reduction in stop-smoking targets may result conversely in a widening of the gap between the healthiest and the worst off in England.
In California, says the author, heavy early investment in smoking cessation services produced disappointing population results.
Nicotine replacement therapy and buproprion are among the most cost-effective treatments for individuals, but "comprehensive restriction of smoking in all workplaces works better", he argues. England's most deprived communities need more of both sets of measures, he concludes.