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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Smoking, England 2020

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

Part 2: Prescription items used to help people stop smoking

This section presents information on the number of prescription items used to help people stop smoking, using prescription data held by NHS Prescription Services.

The Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) is the basic cost of a drug as listed in the Drug Tariff or price lists; it does not include discounts, dispensing costs, prescription charges or fees.

There are three main pharmacotherapies prescribed for the treatment of smoking dependence in England: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), Bupropion (Zyban) and Varenicline (Champix).

Please note that the charts are based on rounded data. Unrounded data are available in the corresponding data tables.

Prescription items used to help people stop smoking

Prescription items dispensed, by year

The number of prescription items dispensed in England in 2019/20 was 710 thousand, compared to 2.48 million ten years ago.

Prescription items dispensed peaked at 2.56 million in 2010/11.

In 2019/20, 379 thousand items of NRT were dispensed, down from 396 thousand in 2018/19, and around a quarter of the total of ten years ago in 2009/10 (1.56 million).

304 thousand items of Varenicline were dispensed in 2019/20, compared with a peak of 987 thousand items in 2010/11.

Bupropion is the least common item, with 27 thousand dispensed in 2019/20, over a 10% increase from 2018/19 (24 thousand), accelerating the upward trend since 2014/15.


Prescription items dispensed by Clinical Commissioning Group, per 1,000 population

The rate of items dispensed per 1,000 population in 2019/20 was 13 for England.

NHS Bradford City CCG had the highest rate of items dispensed, with 45 per 1,000 population. NHS Manchester, NHS Wakefield (both 36), NHS Stockport, NHS Kernow and NHS Bradford Districts (all 32) had the next highest rates.

NHS Wyre Forest, NHS South Worcestershire, NHS Redditch and Bromsgrove, NHS Stafford and Surrounds and NHS Rotherham all recorded rates of below 1 item per 1,000 population.

Number of Prescription items dispensed by Clinical Commissioning Group, per 1,000 population

England rate: 13 per 1,000 population


Total cost of prescription items dispensed

£22.5 million was the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of all prescription items used to help people quit smoking in 2019/20.

This is a fall of 66% compared to 2010/11 when the NIC of all prescription items peaked at £65.9 million.


Average NIC per item

In 2019/20, the average NIC per item for all pharmacotherapy items was £32.

The average per item was £39 for Bupropion, £36 for Varenicline and £28 for NRT.


Last edited: 10 March 2021 2:48 pm