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Smoking cessation

Pharmacy smoking quit rates half those from specialist services, Scottish government says

After finding that specialist stop smoking servics have a higher success rate than community pharmacy services, the new Scottish Tobacco Action Plan outlines plans to integrate services to narrow the difference in quit rates.

More than two-thirds of smokers who want to quit go to their community pharmacy for support, but specialist stop smoking services have a higher success rate, according to the Scottish Tobacco Action Plan

Smokers are twice as likely to successfully quit the habit if they are referred to a specialist service run by their local health board compared with only using their local pharmacy service, it revealed. According to the plan, the proportion of successful quits at 12 weeks is higher (at 33%) for those using GP or other specialist services than for those using pharmacy services (18%). 

Now, as part of its revised action plan, the Scottish government wants to see more integrated smoking cessation services developed between community pharmacy and health board specialist services to try and narrow the difference in their quit rates.

The plan, which was published on 20 June 2018, said: “Some boards or partnerships have now adopted a shared-care approach where the pharmacological component of the specialist support is provided through community pharmacy.

“Integration such as this may help narrow the gap in terms of likely successful quitting between specialist services and pharmacy-only quit attempts.”

The plan also proposes to develop guidance for community pharmacists and other health professionals about the role e-cigarettes can play as part of wider support to help smokers quit.

It acknowledges that many community pharmacies sell e-cigarettes products and would benefit from access to approved guidance.

Other recommendations outside of pharmacy include: restricting the number of retail outlets, especially in deprived areas where smoking levels are higher; extending the statutory smoking ban to communal landings and stairways; banning tobacco products in prisons; and encouraging inmates to use e-cigarettes instead.

Launching the updated action plan, Aileen Campbell, Scottish public health minister, said the country had made good progress over the past five years since setting “an ambitious target to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034”.

“Halving the number of children exposed to second hand smoke, introducing plain packaging and cracking down on cigarette sales to under-18s,” she said.

“The action plan I’m publishing today demonstrates our commitment to the new public health priorities which include an ambition for a Scotland free from the harms caused by alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

“All of these together can create a healthier Scotland.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205045

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