PHARMACIES in the Lothians have launched a drive to help more smokers quit the habit after discovering many people are unaware of cessation services that they offer.
More than 75 per cent of all quitters in Scotland do so through their local pharmacy – compared with less than a fifth in England – through a 12-week programme.
But Lothian has one of the lowest take up rates in Scotland with only 8.3 per cent of adult smokers in the Lothians using pharmacies for help, well below the 13.3 per cent in Glasgow.
With ambitious targets to curb the 1800 deaths attributed to smoking every year in the Lothians, Community Pharmacy Scotland is eager to spread the word and help the region become smoke free.
Health bosses are looking to promote the support – which includes drop-in services, consultations and advice on stop smoking products such as nicotine gum, oral sprays and inhalator – to help add to the 13,000 who have kicked the habit over the last three years.
Pharmacist Heather Kelly, who works at Deans Pharmacy, Gorgie, said the drop-in service and Saturday opening meant anyone looking to quit can access help at most times.
She said: “The big difference between quitting through a pharmacy or through your GP is that this is a drop-in service, so people can come in at any time. It’s not an appointment-based system, which can often work well for people.
“You’ve still got the privacy part, consultations are in private rooms, and we’ve got all the right signposts as well. If we don’t have all the answers we can still get people into pregnancy services or any other specialist services if they need it.”
The process starts with a 15-minute consultation with a pharmacist or other trained expert who will discuss setting a quit date to work towards.
Like most cessation services, a carbon dioxide reading will be conducted – to see how smoking is affecting the supply of oxygen in the blood – and tested at regular intervals.
Ms Kelly added: “You’d then have a wee chat about the different products available and the advantages of each one and how it might work for that individual.
“After that it’s a weekly drop-in, just a quick chat on how they’re getting on, what’s going well and what isn’t. There’s no appointment necessary. We just want to get word out that these free services are available to people.
“There was no January peak that you tend to find in pharmacies but, hopefully, the recent stop-smoking day will have led to a few people thinking about giving up.”
SUPPORT AND ADVICE TO GIVE UP
Free support to stop smoking is available across the Lothians.
You can get information about your local stop smoking services from Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84, or visit www.canstopsmoking.com where you can also chat online with a trained adviser.
NHS stop smoking services are available throughout the Lothians. Trained, friendly advisers will help you by giving expert advice and practical support.
This can be in a group with other people who are also trying to give up smoking, or as one-to-one support. Advisers can help with choosing medication such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline (Champix) or bupropion (Zyban).
You can also access NHS support at any community pharmacy with weekly one-to-one support.