Advice for GPs

Posted 4th September 2018 by Dave Cross
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has joined the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in supporting vaping. Linda Bauld, chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK (CRUK), co-presents a video for general practitioners (GPs) aimed at giving them clear facts to inform their discussions with patients.

Linda Bauld co-presents the video with Dr Richard Roope, the RCGP’s Clinical Champion for Cancer. Bauld describes the video, the “new podcast on e-cigarettes is for Primary Care Professionals. In it they discuss “vaping for smoking cessation,” in order to support the RCGP ecig position statement.

The position statement has been produced in conjunction with Cancer Research UK. She says: “It is just 10 mins long so hopefully useful to busy GPs & colleagues.”

“Primary Care Professionals have a number of questions about these devices, as do their patients,” says Dr. Roope. “In particular, many GPs do not know about the relative safety of e-cigarettes compared to tobacco smoking.”

“Research commissioned by CRUK in 2017 discovered that 20% of primary care professionals have never discussed e-cigarettes and a further 25% have only discussed them very occasionally.”

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Roope adds that many GPs are unsure of what to think about vaping and were asking for guidance. “In was in this light that the RCPG has developed a revised position statement to address concerns outlining the very latest evidence,” he continued.

Roope describes the revised position statement as a “call to action”, and to get Primary Care Professionals to give very clear advice on ecigs and how to use them for smoking cessation.

In the video, Bauld and Roope put to bed any concerns regarding safety, the renormalisation of smoking, issues regarding teens and a supposed gateway to smoking, and passive vaping.

The recommendations for Primary Care Clinicians from the RCGP are:

  • Primary Care Clinicians should provide advice to smoking patients on the relative risks of smoking. Patients should be advised that behavioural support and prescription medication from local Stop Smoking Services (SSS) is the most effective quit method. Primary Care Clinicians should provide referral to SSS where these services exist and the patient wishes to access this support
  • Using their clinical judgement on an individual patient basis, Primary Care Clinicians may wish to promote e-cigarette use as a means to stopping. Patients choosing to use an e-cigarette in a quit attempt should be advised that seeking behavioural support alongside e-cigarette use increases the chances of quit success further. Most SSS are e-cigarette friendly and patients can be advised to bring one to their appointment if they would like to quit using their device
  • Primary Care Clinicians should recognise e-cigarettes offer a wide reaching, low-cost opportunity to reduce smoking (especially in deprived groups in society and those with poor mental health, both having elevated rates of smoking). In the UK, though start-up costs can be higher, it likely to be less expensive to use an e-cigarette over time than it is to smoke
  • E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.

Despite the video being aimed at GPs, it is useful for smokers and vapers with questions about safety and effectiveness – and also for concerned family members.

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