GPs and Pharmacies

Posted 24th October 2017 by Dave Cross
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics state there were an estimated 79,000 smoking-related deaths in 2015. Electronic cigarettes have been welcomed for the first time, in order to combat this, as part of Stoptober. New advice has been sent out to chemists and pharmacies, and ecigs have been termed a “phenomenal tool” for GPs to help smokers quit.

University College London’s data shows that smoking quit rates are hitting record highs, at 20%. The UCL reports that this is all down to the success of vaping – and over half of all Stoptober quit attempts last year were made using an electronic cigarette. The good news story has been fed out to all chemists and pharmacies.

Gul Root, lead public health pharmacist at Public Health England, said: “Many smokers now use e-cigarettes as part of their quit attempt, so pharmacy teams need to be able to give sound advice to smokers who are already using them or want to use them.”

British Lung Foundation’s chief executive, Penny Woods, added: “Pharmacists can be very clear with people that they should try vaping as a way to quit smoking for good. Many people have used them to quit regular cigarettes, which are still the single biggest cause of early preventable death in the UK. However, vaping is not advisable for non-smokers, and until we have more evidence, we can’t recommend vaping long term.”

Cancer Research UK’s Carl Alexander also has a message for chemists and pharmacists: “The most effective way to stop smoking is through a combination of medication and support. But for people who’ve tried to quit before, or don’t want to use medication or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), e-cigarettes could be another way to stop smoking.”

UK magazine Chemist and Druggist has updated its information on the subject and stated: “E-cigarettes have recently gained popularity; they deliver nicotine as an inhaled vapour via an electronic device. Long-term safety has not yet been established, however studies have shown e-cigarettes can help customers give up smoking.”


Meanwhile, GP Online tells its readership that vaping devices are a “phenomenal tool for GPs to help smokers quit”. The online information source for doctors states: “Smoking cessation is one of general practice's most effective interventions in the battle against cancer,” and that vaping is “a crucial weapon in the GP's arsenal”.

Dr Linda Bauld told them: “The crucial message is that e-cigarettes are hugely safer than tobacco – but patients won't realise any health benefits unless they switch entirely to vaping and stop smoking cigarettes completely. We should see very encouraging results for smoking cessation. If used every day and with high concentration, these products can help people move away from smoking.”

The article cites Dr Bobak saying: “We do not know the long-term risk – although they are likely to be minimal, but we do know short-term risks – which are minimal, and similar to NRT. Smokers want choice, and many want to use it – for goodness’ sake let them. It’s a fantastic opportunity, but not being used right. It’s not been given with support, and 40% use e-cigarettes alongside smoking. We should be clear that you use them with absolute cessation of combustible tobacco.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker