Research type 
Desk research
Year of report 

Summary of findings



  • In 2006, smoking prevalence in the Yorkshire & Humber region was 24%; 1% above the national average. Amongst routine and manual groups this increased to 32%; 2% above the national average. Smoking prevalence in Doncaster is estimated to be above the regional figures.
  • Data from Doncaster PCT Stop Smoking Service shows that nearly two-thirds of current service users are female; the age-groups 21-40 and 41-60 are the largest groups and have very similar numbers of clients; Doncaster PCT Stop Smoking service clients come from across the PCT area.

“Mystery Shopping” / Focus groups

  • The majority of participants were not aware of the range of services offered by Doncaster Stop Smoking service and had limited experience of using the service.
  • Participants had broadly negative expectations of the service. However, participants’ actual experience of the face-to-face Stop Smoking services confounded their expectations. Experiences were broadly positive and they felt supported and motivated by their encounters. There were exceptions to this, in particular for participants who visited community pharmacists.
  • Participants were less positive about their experiences of the telephone helpline and the website. Participants experienced difficulties in accessing the helpline and, when they did get through, they did not receive the help they expected. The website was unfavourably compared with other non NHS websites which were more interactive and inspirational.


  • The primary target group is identified as C2DE, routine and manual workers – in particular men, and those aged between 25 and 45.
  • Smokers over 35 should be targeted with messages and information about COPD.
  • The audience should be segmented by age and life-stage as motivations to quit change over time. 


  • The strategy should combine service development and improvement with marketing and communication activity and wider tobacco control activities.

Service development and improvement

  • Develop with providers a ‘gold standard’ service, in terms of delivery and customer care, to ensure consistency in the service offered and in relation to NRT.
  • Ensure great customer service is delivered every time through effective performance management.
  • Remove any hurdles and simplify the pathway wherever possible.
  • Look at following-up smokers for longer if requested, ideally up to 12 weeks.
  • Reach out to smokers by taking services to them, eg in workplaces or via a mobile unit
  • Follow-up unsuccessful quitters.
  • Consider ways of making the service flexible to the needs of service users.

Telephone helpline

  • Man the helpline during office hours and answer messages promptly.
  • Minimise the amount of personal details requested during the first call.

Marketing and communications


  • To raise the profile of the stop smoking service
  • To build the reputation of the stop smoking service
  • To improve access to the stop smoking service

Messages to promote

  • A general stop smoking message, alongside information about how the stop smoking service can help.
  • The health effects of smoking. 
  • The financial benefits of using the service, eg that NRT is available on prescription.
  • Using the stop smoking service significantly increases the chances of quitting successfully.

Brand identity/logo

  • Develop a strong identity or logo to increase smokers’ awareness of the service and make it easier for them to find locally.

Brand proposition

  • Clarify the brand proposition so that smokers are aware of the range of information, advice and support available.


  • Review the purpose of the website and invest in it accordingly.


  • Evaluate the performance of the service via a range of measures which include accessibility, customer experience, and outcomes.
  • Evaluate the performance of communications and marketing activities.

Research objectives

  • Identify and profile the key target audiences in Doncaster who are most likely to smoke and who are most likely to want to quit smoking.
  • Explore the current lifestyle and behaviour of participants, including previous quit attempts.
  • Explore awareness, perceptions and experiences of NHS stop smoking products and services
  • Explore experiences of quitting using the Doncaster Stop Smoking Service (post “mystery shopping”)
  • Explore experiences of the service, and provide guidance on possible improvements



Doncaster PCT commissioned research to provide insights into six public health issues and to develop social marketing strategies aimed at developing long term solutions to these issues. One of these issues was reducing the prevalence of smoking.

Quick summary


Identify those most likely to smoke and most likely to want to quit, explore their lifestyles and experiences of previous quit attempts – including perceptions of NHS stop smoking products, explore their experiences of quitting using the Doncaster Stop Smoking Service, and provide guidance on service improvements.

Audience Summary



Other Gender

Gender actually specified as ‘mixed’



Mix of ethnicity (not further specified)



Mix of age. (Groups split into 25-40 years and 41-55 years.)

Social Class


Social-economic groups D&E



  • Analysis of several national data sets to identify and profile the key target audiences in Doncaster who are most likely to smoke and who are most likely to want to quit smoking. Data sets included health needs mapping, lifestyle data from Mosaic™, Commissioning Dataset and data from Doncaster Stop Smoking service.
  • Qualitative research with smokers from the key target populations identified by analytics. Participants took part in a “mystery shopping” exercise by trying to quit smoking using services provided by Doncaster PCT Stop Smoking service and reported on their experiences, and took part in a focus group before and after the “mystery shopping”

Data collection methodology

Focus groups
Mystery shopping

Other data collection methodology


Analysis of existing data sets

Sample size

  • 14 smokers were recruited from Doncaster.
  • 11 of these took part in the first focus groups
  • 8 of these remained through the mystery shopping exercise and returned for the 2nd focus groups.

Detailed region



Fieldwork dates


Not specified

Agree to publish



Research agency

Dr Foster Intelligence