31st May 2022 is The World Health Organisation’s World No Tobacco Day.
It was created to bring awareness to more people about the dangers and health risks of smoking tobacco, and ultimately, to stop use of tobacco around the world.
Staggeringly, over 7 million people are killed across the globe by smoking tobacco alone.
Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.
Many of us know smoking is believed to be the leading cause of throat and lung cancers, and a major risk factor in many other types of cancer. However, what is little known is that smoking tobacco is one of the main cause of heart problems and diseases.
Thankfully, smoking is coming down in England, thanks to all our hard work over many years – yet smoking is still our country’s number one killer. And it’s the single biggest medical reason why poorer people die sooner.
Our job in the NHS is to help support the majority of smokers who want to quit. In England, around 60% of smokers want to quit, 10% of which intend to do so within 3 months.
Currently, around half of all smokers in England try to quit unaided using willpower alone, despite this being the least effective method. Getting support can greatly increase a person’s chances of quitting successfully.
We are really pleased therefore, that the NHS Long Term Plan included dedicated funding for smoking cessation, not just for inpatients in acute settings, but also for pregnant smokers and their partners, and those with mental health conditions.
“When you see a patient who smokes, who probably has not developed any complications as yet, it’s important that we actually ask that question… There is huge benefit in trying to stop the cycle of things.”
“Advising patients to stop smoking is important for their health because smoking remains the biggest preventable cause of death and morbidity.”
“That short intervention of just mentioning to someone the importance of stopping smoking, in a non-judgemental manner, can make a huge difference. Even if they’re not ready at that moment in time, give them information so that when they are ready, that will help.”
They are the voices of healthcare professionals. Like all clinicians, they encounter smokers in their daily work. Indeed, most of us have first hand experience of caring for people whose lives have been destroyed by addiction to smoking tobacco. Many of these long term illnesses and deaths are entirely avoidable.
The NHS is in a unique position around prevention – one in four patients in hospital beds are smokers. As well as leading by example, gains in health can be made by the taking every opportunity to engage those patients that smoke. Reducing smoking among patients can reduce hospital admissions, reduce the risk of premature death, and also lead to many benefits you might not realise – such as the effectiveness of some medications and increasing healing after operations.
We must make every contact count – promoting smoking cessation is the most effective thing we as healthcare professional and Clinician can do to improve health outcomes for our patients who smoke. It is also one of the most effective ways of triggering a quit attempt.
That’s backed up by a recent survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which found that when visiting their GP about a non-smoking related matter more than two in every five (42%) of smokers expect to get advice about quitting.
28% of smokers say that a healthcare professionals’ advice would prompt them to make a quit attempt, with a further 35% encouraged to quit at a later date or cut down on the number of cigarettes smoked.
Even among smokers who say they wouldn’t expect advice to stop, more than half (53%) would take some action to address their smoking if their GP advised them to do so.
We must do our very best to offer stop smoking advice and referral to evidenced based support at all relevant points in their journeys through the health system.
By talking to patients about smoking we can not only reduce the huge burden of smoking on the NHS but reduce Health Inequalities and save lives.
More information on Very Brief Advice and a great training resource is available on the NCSCT website, through this link: www.ncsct.co.uk/publication_VBA_2021.php
Quit smoking for someone you love
Stopping smoking has never been more important and local healthcare staff are encouraging smokers to quit for someone they love.
Quit Together is a new campaign helping people stop smoking for their children, partner, parents, closest friends or anyone important to them. It’s calling on others to support the smokers in their lives with their attempt to quit.
The campaign is being led by healthcare workers at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust which runs hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole as well as some community services.
The new website, www.quittogether.co.uk and #QuitTogether includes encouraging messages of support, real stories from those who’ve quit and information on the help available. It also details the impact of smoking on COVID-19, pregnancy, cancer, heart and lung conditions, mental health, as well as operations. You can find out more information online, including other sources of nicotine such as e-cigarettes, by searching for ‘NHS Smokefree’ and using the Smokefree app.
To support those quitting, the Trust is sharing ‘feel good’ photos and videos from local healthcare staff and will ask members of the public to share their own on social media. Whether it’s a thumbs up, handmade sign or words of encouragement, show you are behind those wanting to quit by sharing your photos or video message using #QuitTogether or by emailing it to email@example.com.
To take part in #QuitTogether visit www.quittogether.co.uk and make your promise to either support a loved one to quit, or quit for someone you love.
Hearing other smokers’ success stories is a great motivator. If you want to share yours then you can tweet and use the hashtag #QuitTogether or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your quitting story.
Smokefreelife North Lincolnshire
Smokefreelife North Lincolnshire offers a FREE, flexible, three-tier support service to provide patients with a number of ways to become smoke free:
- Face-to-face support: Weekly support with an adviser in a number of locations across North Lincolnshire. Patients are offered a free and direct supply of a range of nicotine replacement products for up to eight weeks within their core service (four weeks supply when seeing an adviser in a pharmacy).
- Quitline, Text and Email support: Ideal for patients that do not want to attend face-to-face support. A trained adviser will be able to give the same behavioural support as the face to face service and give information about nicotine replacement products that are available to purchase.
- Online interactive service: The YooQuit programme is a new online platform, combining video and audio messages to deliver behavioural support in the comfort of the patient's home.
Solutions 4 Health will provide GPs and practice staff with support in the form of resources (posters, leaflets and referral forms), free brief intervention training for all staff and in-house support if required. They will be contacting practices over the coming months to discuss their specific support requirements.
For further information contact Smokefreelife North Lincolnshire on:
Telephone: 0800 772 3249 or 01724 642014.
Or contact Solutions4Health, Voluntary Action North Lincolnshire, 4-6 Roberts Street, Scunthorpe, DN16 6NG
Telephone: 01724 642014