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New approaches to an old challenge: what can we do about smoking?

02 October 2021
7 min read
Volume 32 · Issue 10

Abstract

Smoking cessation remains a challenge. Louise Ross describes new strategies practice nurses can use to help their patients to stop smoking

Practice nurses are in an excellent position to help patients who smoke to think about quitting and to guide them towards the course of action most likely to be successful. Unfortunately some nurses, like many other health professionals, have become disillusioned about the power to change the minds of patients who smoke and influence their choices. This article looks at new strategies and approaches, to empower practice nurses and to support them to contribute to the national ambition of a Smokefree 2030.

The UK has pioneered a world-class approach to tackling smoking, and in 2019, only 14.1% of adults in the UK smoked cigarettes (Office for National Statistics, 2020). The smoking rate is 6% lower than in 2011, and rates have fallen dramatically since the early days of Stop Smoking Services (SSSs); however, those patients who still smoke continue to present a challenge, clustered as they are in poorer communities and among people with poor mental health (ONS, 2020; Public Health England, 2020a; Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), 2021a).

In 2018/19, over 500 000 NHS hospital admissions in England were attributed to smoking (Public Health England, 2020b; NHS Digital, 2020).

A new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health report (2021) outlines achievable goals to reach the milestone of a Smokefree 2030 (British Heart Foundation, 2021). The report emphasises that stopping smoking is the single best thing anyone who smokes can do for their health. Smoking not only kills people prematurely, it can also keep them in poverty and increases the number of years people live with poor health and disability. Areas of the country with the highest deprivation scores are where people smoke the most (APPG, 2021).

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