21% of the English population are smokers with a high risk group prevailing at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. NICE recommends that the NHS Stop Smoking service should target these sectors of the community. The NHS Stop Smoking Service can be described as a locally managed service, funded by the Department of Health that provides accessible, evidence based, clinical service to support smokers who want to stop. With the provision of NICE approved drug therapies, drug information and guidance material and well informed and appropriately trained pharmacy staff, the local pharmacy is well equipped to increase the percentage of quit prospects who are considering using the NHS service.
The national No Smoking Day can be an opportunity for pharmacies to provide incentives to those who are interested in quitting and also a chance to highlight to their customers the service they provide.
Information provided by the No Smoking Day charity can prove useful to pharmacies that are keen to generate ideas in anticipation of No Smoking Day and on how to promote their service. Pharmacies can register for a free information pack and other campaign materials from the charity’s website.
Pharmacists and their staff are at the front line to encourage customers to take a look at the reasons why they smoke and consider giving up. Combining behavioural advice with pharmacotherapy for smokers who visit the pharmacy with an ailment or long standing condition could increase their chances of stopping. The suggestion that giving up smoking will improve a smoker’s overall health,speed up the healing process and help prevent against disease could help build their motivation to quit. With an appropriately trained pharmacy team pharmacies can offer services such as carbon monoxide testing and one-on-one advice on an ongoing basis, all year round.
For those who fear relapsing and see this as a contributing factor to their unwillingness to quit, the NHS Stop Smoking Service may be the support they need, helping the smoker feel less alone in their attempt to quit. The NHS Stop Smoking helpline provides out of hours specialist advice to smokers . The service also runs group meetings that guide smokers through the different stages of stopping. Information on local NHS Stop Smoking services can be sought from local commissioners of services or by calling one of the NHS Helplines.
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