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How to double your chance of giving up smoking

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January 25, 2009

How to double your chance of giving up smoking

How to double your chance of giving up smoking

January 26, 2009 About one third of the male adult global population smokes, two thirds in Asia where tobacco advertising is largely still legal. Among teens aged 13 to 15, about one in five smokes worldwide. Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death. Smoking related-diseases currently kill one in 10 adults globally, and on current trends, one in six of ALL people two decades from now. New UK research has found that smokers are twice as likely to kick the habit if they use a support group rather than trying to give up alone.

Those stats are alarming, and you’d wonder why we do it – World Health Organisation statistics calculate that for very cigarette smoked, it cuts at least five minutes from your life span - about the time taken to smoke it.

A study from the University of Bath has found that smokers are twice as likely to kick the habit if they use a support group rather than trying to give up alone.

The study, funded by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Health Scotland, found that more than a third of smokers using support groups quit smoking after four weeks; almost double the proportion of those using a pharmacy-based support scheme to help them quit.

Researchers from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies led by Dr Linda Bauld at the University of Bath, along with colleagues from the University of Glasgow, have published research in the February issue of Addiction journal comparing the success and cost-effectiveness of two types of stop smoking support services offered by the British National Health Service. These are community-based group stop smoking support and one-to-one support provided in a pharmacy setting.

Dr Linda Bauld said: “These findings agree with previous research which shows that smokers who used a support group were more likely to quit. But we know that only a very small proportion of smokers using NHS stop smoking services in the UK use this form of help.

“We need to get the message across that group support, combined with stop smoking medications, works well for many people.

“However, we found that both types of service in Glasgow are reaching and treating smokers from disadvantaged areas in substantial numbers, which is extremely encouraging and will contribute to efforts to reduce inequalities in health.”

Pharmacy-based support is available in over 200 pharmacies across Glasgow and at the time of the study treated over 12,000 smokers per year. The service includes one-to-one behavioural support for up to 12 weeks, with each session usually lasting from five to 15 minutes; this support is combined with a direct supply of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), usually in the form of patches.

The second service assessed in the study involved community-based group counselling and lasts for seven weeks, with each session lasting around an hour. A trained advisor is able to give vouchers for NRT for collection at pharmacies and advise on other types of smoking cessation medicine which the client can then get from their GP.

After the course of group counselling sessions has ended, smokers can receive ongoing support and medication from their pharmacy for a further five weeks. At the time of the study, this method was used by 1,700 smokers per year in Glasgow.

Early results from the study’s economic analysis suggest that the pharmacy based service is less costly to deliver than group support. Overall though, the economic analysis found that both types of service are cost-effective.

Professor Carol Tannahill, Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, said: “Many smokers feel that they have to manage to give up smoking on their own, yet there are now a range of services available to support smokers to quit. This research sets out to examine how effective different services are, and what factors may influence outcomes.”

The next stage of the study in Glasgow involves the collection and analysis of one year outcomes from the smokers who participated in this initial study.

The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS) was established in 2008 as one of the five UK Public Health Centres of Excellence. It aims to become an international leader in the field of tobacco control. The Centre is a strategic partnership of seven UK universities in England and Scotland involving leading tobacco control researchers from a range of disciplines.

Addiction is a monthly scientific journal, read in over sixty countries and publishing more than 2000 pages every year. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884. Addiction publishes peer-reviewed research reports on alcohol, illicit drugs and tobacco, bringing together research conducted within many different disciplines, as well as editorials and other debate pieces.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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