Fewer people are using NHS services in an attempt to quit smoking amid a rise in e-cigarette use, new figures show.

There were 64,736 attempts to give up smoking made with the help of cessation services in 2015/16, down 5% from 67,935 the previous year.

The uptake is about 7% of the estimated 932,000 adult smokers in Scotland, with 24% smoke-free after one month, according to carbon monoxide testing.

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The overall number of people smoking in Scotland has continued to fall despite a large drop in the number of people using NHS services to quit since 2011/12.

Statisticians said that while the reason for the fall in service use was not completely clear, a rise in the use of electronic cigarettes to help quitting "is a likely contributing factor".

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK's senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said: "It's deeply concerning to see a drop in the number of people using smoking cessation services in Scotland as they're much more successful at helping people quit than will power alone.

"Smoking is a lethal addiction. It causes at least 14 types of cancer and so it's vital funding for these services is maintained and smokers are encouraged to attend.

"We're determined to reduce deaths from smoking-related cancers, which is why Cancer Research UK will soon launch a study to better understand how these services are performing in Scotland and what more can be done to ensure smokers are supported to stub out this habit for good."

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Health charity ASH Scotland said stop-smoking services were at risk of becoming invisible due to a lack of advertising.

Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: "For the past four years, we've seen declining numbers quitting with NHS services. At the same time, there have been no adverts for these services on the airwaves.

The Herald:

"In other countries like Australia, TV and radio advertising is a key part of helping smokers to quit, and we know that it works.

"If we want to meet the government target of a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034, we need to help the two-thirds of smokers who want to quit find the best available support.

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"Crucially, those who try to quit using NHS services are much more successful than those who use other methods."