Stop smoking services should be available to all smokers, says RCGP

Publication date: 28 March 2018

Responding to new advice from NICE and Public Health England that aims to help patients stop smoking, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"This is helpful advice from NICE and PHE, particularly as it clarifies the messages that GPs and our teams should be giving to patients who are trying to stop smoking and who ask about switching to e-cigarettes - guidance that the College has long been calling for.

"Smoking can have a devastating effect on our patients' long-term health and wellbeing – it is the biggest preventable cause of death in the UK with strong evidence linking it to serious and debilitating conditions, such as cancer, lung and heart disease, and diabetes. It also costs the NHS billions every year.

"GPs will always advocate that our patients should stop smoking, as well as making other lifestyle changes that can help them lead longer and healthier lives. But helping patients to stop smoking is not just about GPs having conversations with our patients during consultations - there also needs to be enough resources and services in the community, such as smoking cessation centres, that can be of great benefit for patients trying to quit, but which GPs often find to be oversubscribed, or access patchy across the country.

"It makes sense that priority access is given to patients according to certain circumstances, for example, if they are preparing for elective surgery and stopping smoking could clearly aid their recovery, but services that aim to help patients stop smoking should be available to all patients who could benefit from them throughout the UK.

"It's certainly good to hear that overall smoking rates are falling, but while millions of people still smoke in the UK, there is clearly more to do – and only by working together as a society can we tackle this issue head on."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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