Smoking cessation support and treatment services
Smoking was identified as being among the top five risk factors that cause premature deaths in England according to the Global Burden of Disease study, with the others being poor diet, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol and drug use (Steel et al, 2018). Following these were air pollution (which is responsible for a quarter of all global cardiovascular disease deaths (World Heart Federation, 2022)) and a lack of exercise (Steel et al, 2018).
In the Long Term Plan, the NHS (2019) committed to helping to make England a smoke-free society by 2023/24, by supporting people who smoke who come into contact with NHS services to quit by offering NHS-funded tobacco treatment services.
In 2021, the British Thoracic Society (BTS, 2022) carried out a national audit of the management of tobacco dependency in acute care trusts, following previous audits in 2019 and 2016. The audit included 120 acute hospitals in the UK and analysed 14000 patient records. Nearly 80% of people were asked about their smoking status; only 45% of those were then given the briefest of advice, 15% were offered a referral to a smoking cessation service, 9% were seen by a smoking cessation practitioner while in hospital despite staff knowledge of their addiction, and just 5% of patients provided with the interventions recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): nicotine replacement therapy varenicline and vaping. However, given the context of the last couple of years, perhaps it is understandable why planned smoking cessation implementation took a backseat and were carried out later than planned.
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