By Imran Mahmood, Pharmacy Manager, Southowram
One of the services the Hub pharmacy provides is the smoking cessation service. If we, as pharmacists, want to make a positive difference to the communities we serve then this service should be a priority for all of us. I am passionate about my patients’ health and well-being and it is very rewarding when I can help a patient quit smoking. I have helped over twenty patients quit smoking over the last year and helped them lead a more healthy lifestyle.
The facts against smoking are overwhelming:
- 50% of long-term smokers will die as a direct result of smoking.
- One cigarette contains over 4000 chemicals, and at least 400 toxic substances.
- On average smokers die 16 years younger than non-smokers.
- Smoking 20 cigarettes a day could cost over £200 a month.
So enough of the negatives, how about the positives of quitting?
- Life expectancy is increased. For example: patients who quit before turning 30 can add up to 10 years to their life expectancy.
- Patients will be financially better off with the increasing costs of smoking.
- Quitting smoking can increase lung capacity by 10%.
- Stopping smoking can improve the skin, slowing down the effects of aging.
- Taste & smell improves.
- Increased blood flow increases oxygen supply, which improves the immune system.
How does the service work?
Patients who want to quit have an initial consultation with a pharmacist to discuss the service. This is a key opportunity to invite patients into my consulting room, introduce myself and ask their permission for a ‘chat’ about their medicines and lifestyle. I explain that I offer free smoking cessation advice, consultations, a range of nicotine replacement treatments and other prescription medication. By the end of the initial consultation the message I want to get across is that I provide one-to-one support during the journey to living smoke-free by helping patients meet their quitting targets. We can do this by setting achievable goals and also providing information and prescription services to help with those cravings. Building trust at this stage is very important as studies show smokers are much more likely to quit with regular face to face support.
After the initial consultation, patients come for a weekly consultation where we can sit down and have a chat. At the same time I can check their carbon monoxide levels which is an excellent motivational tool to help patients and I to keep a check on their progress. Tailored advice and treatment is provided to help keep the patient smoke-free. The service lasts up to 12 weeks and the service is free of charge. The only fees charged are prescription charges (for the patients who pay for prescriptions).
I think that pharmacists have much to offer to smokers – not only our knowledge of health and medicines but a listening ear, confidential setting and a caring and empathetic attitude. I have found patients find my advice and support very valuable to their goal of quitting. I’m not saying it’s easy to stop smoking, but it is so important for our patients’ health. If we take the time to provide the support and guidance the long-term rewards will be immense.
To find out more information about this service and where it is available, visit our page: Stop smoking service and vouchers (NHS)