Background: Smoking is strongly associated with disadvantage and is an important contributor to inequalities in health. Smoking cessation services have been implemented in the UK targeting disadvantaged smokers, but there is little evidence available on how to design services to attract this priority group.
Methods: We conducted focus groups with 39 smokers aged 21-75 from the most socio-economically deprived areas of Nottingham UK who had made an unsuccessful attempt to quit within the last year without using smoking cessation services, to identify specific barriers or motivators to gaining access to these services.
Results: Barriers to use of existing services related to fear of being judged, fear of failure, a perceived lack of knowledge about existing services, a perception that available interventions--particularly Nicotine Replacement Therapy--are expensive and ineffective, and negative media publicity about bupropion. Participants expressed a preference for a personalized, non-judgemental approach combining counselling with affordable, accessible and effective pharmacological therapies; convenient and flexible timing of service delivery, and the possibility of subsidized complementary therapies.
Conclusion: We conclude that smokers from these deprived areas generally had low awareness of the services available to help them, and misconceptions about their availability and effectiveness. A more personalized approach to promoting services that are non-judgemental, and with free pharmacotherapy and flexible support may encourage more deprived smokers to quit smoking.