By Will Roberts
NHS services developed to help people stop smoking have helped almost 146,000 quit the habit over the past decade, according to new research.
Around 145,783 people have quit smoking for at least a year between 2001 and 2011.
However, more still needs to be done to improve the performance of under-performing services, the research found.
Professor Robert West is director of tobacco research at University College London and led the research team.
He said: "England's stop smoking services have led the world and saved lives more cost-effectively than just about any other area of the NHS - a real success story.
"However, there is clearly room for improvement and a need to bring the poorer performing services up to standard."
The team examined NHS services, which can include prescribing medication to help smokers quit as well as face-to-face counselling in groups or individually.
Services were found to have increased their reach and impact threefold over the 10-year period and were crucially reaching the poorer members of the population who traditionally smoke more.
The report, which appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said about 35 per cent of people who set a quit date had stopped smoking four weeks later.
The report states: "Bearing in mind the difficulty in quitting experienced by smokers who typically attend stop smoking services, even a 35 per cent four-week quit rate represents a substantial impact."