BRADFORD Council has become the first local authority in the country to opt out of collecting data about people quitting smoking, saying monitoring the issue using old NHS targets is "not an effective use of taxpayers' money".
A new report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has revealed the number of people using local NHS Stop Smoking Services to set a quit date fell by 19 per cent in England in 2013/14, with Yorkshire and the Humber showing the highest regional percentage decrease at 24 per cent.
This marked the first time the number had fallen for two consecutive years since the services were set up in all Health Authorities in England in 2000/01, but figures from 2012/13 had to be used to generate data for the Bradford district, with the council the only authority which chose not to submit any figures for the year up to March 2014.
The 2012/13 figures used in the HSCIC report put the percentage of successful quitters across the district at 40 per cent, the lowest rate across Yorkshire and the Humber, which had an average of 54 per cent, above the 51 per cent national rate.
The figures are based on specific former-NHS stop smoking four-week quit targets, established before the responsibility for stop smoking services was transferred from primary care trusts to local authorities in 2013, which the council states does not reflect the wider picture of the work it is carrying out.
As a result, it is no longer collecting the old NHS data as other local authorities continue to do, but is instead basing its stop smoking provision around levels of smoking by prevalence, collected via the Government's annual Integrated Household Survey.
Joanne Nykol, tobacco lead for Bradford Council, said: "The move away from the PCT to the local authority means that Bradford would have had to invest in a database system to accurately collect and analyse the data, and a decision has been made that this is not an effective use of taxpayers' money.
"As key public health outcomes are based on smoking prevalence statistics, the number of people accessing support to quit is now used to inform service planning and service delivery.
"By measuring smoking prevalence, we can get a more accurate picture of how many people are actually smoking in the district.
"The four-week quit rate measures the throughput of smokers using the stop smoking services, rather than reflecting the wider smoking cessation initiatives being carried out, including investment in tackling illegal tobacco, underage sales, and investment in the midwifery-led stop smoking service to address smoking in pregnancy."
The number of smokers using the stop smoking service across the district fell from 7,451 between April 2012 to March 2013, to 5,522 during the same period in 2013/14, a decrease of 26 per cent.
In 2012, the latest figures available, smoking prevalence among adults across the Bradford district was 22.8 per cent, above the national average of 19.5 per cent.
A regional spokesman for Public Health England in Yorkshire and the Humber said although the number of people using stop smoking services were down, smokers were still four times more likely to succeed by accessing local support.
"Public Health England regards specialist stop smoking services as an essential part of any local plan to reduce smoking and help smokers to quit," said the spokesman.
"We are creating new guidance for local authorities to help them commission effective services, and are discussing with Bradford Council how best to support them.
"What is really important is what is happening locally to smoking prevalence at local authority level."