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ASH Issues Pharmacist Advice

Action on Smoking and Health has issued advice to pharmacists on how to help smokers to stop smoking

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Action on Smoking and Health (ASH UK) has issued advice to pharmacists on how to help smokers to stop smoking. Speaking for the organisation, chief executive Deborah Arnott told them that smoking cessation advice could and should include information about vaping.

Arnott believes that pharmacists are already performing a vital part in assisting people to stop smoking tobacco. Since the government cutbacks, one tenth of the UK’s local authorities no longer have specialist cessation services and people have to rely on their local GP or pharmacy for assistance.

Arnott pointed out that “there were 77,800 deaths from smoking” last year, and if the UK has any hope of achieving the government’s ambitious 2030 smoke-free target efforts would need to be “redoubled”.

“Achieving this target would make the single most significant contribution to the Ageing Society Grand Challenge: delivering five extra healthy years of life. It would also substantially narrow the life expectancy gap between the richest and the poorest. And, of course, it would save tens of thousands of lives.”

On vaping, she says: “E-cigarettes are now the most popular method of quitting smoking in the UK, and clinical trials have shown they are nearly twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches or gum. During consultations, pharmacists are well placed to suggest the use of e-cigarettes as a quitting tool for smokers who have not yet tried them.”

“According to the latest evidence, between 50,000 and 70,000 people quit smoking due to their use of e-cigarettes in 2017 alone. In the US, there has been an acute outbreak of lung injury linked to vaping, but no such outbreak is occurring in the UK. According to the US federal agency, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Vitamin E acetate is a strong contender for the cause of this vaping related lung damage.”

“However, in the UK, The Tobacco and Related Product Regulations 2016 banned all vitamins from vapes. Furthermore, e-cigarettes on sale in the UK are regulated by the medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). ASH and Public Health England’s advice remains the same: smokers should consider switching to vaping as a means to stop smoking. Vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking.”

Arnott also suggest pharmacists offer VBA (Very Brief Advice), recommend stop smoking medications like varenicline and NRT, and noted that the nicotine inhaler Voke is now available on prescription as well as over-the-counter.

ASH is demanding the Department of Health imposes a “polluter pays” levy on tobacco companies in order to raise £265 million to be used in media campaigns and fund stop smoking services.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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