New guideline to help smokers quit

By June Shannon Policy News   |   20th Jan 2022

Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease including heart disease and stroke

The Irish Heart Foundation has welcomed the publication of a new clinical guideline for healthcare professionals to help people stop smoking.

The guideline entitled ‘Stop Smoking,’ was developed by the HSE’s National Clinical Effectiveness Committee and published yesterday (Wednesday 19 January 2022). It was also welcomed by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD and the Minister for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD.

This new guideline was developed by a multidisciplinary Guideline Development Group led by the HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme and chaired by Dr Paul Kavanagh, Public Health Medicine Specialist.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, disease, and disability worldwide, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) describing it as one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. More than 8 million people worldwide die each year as a direct result of tobacco use or from exposure to second-hand smoke.

Smoking causes death and disability on a large scale and it is well documented that cigarette smoking has been causally linked to diseases of nearly every organ of the body, to diminished health status and foetal harm.

"As 18 per cent of people in Ireland currently smoke, it is vital that we make every contact count and support these smokers in their quitting journey,"

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer, The Irish Heart Foundation

The Healthy Ireland Survey 2021 reported that 18 per cent of Irish adults (aged 15+ years) currently smoke; 16 per cent smoke daily and 2per cent smoke occasionally. Within the under-25 age group, men are significantly more likely to smoke than women (19% and 11%, respectively). In previous surveys smoking rates were highest among those aged 25-34, for the first time in this survey those aged 45-54 smoked the most.

A recent Irish study has also shown that rates of smoking among teenagers in Ireland are increasing. This study revealed that rates of vaping among teenagers have risen in the last four years and that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke.

The development of the new Clinical Guideline on Stop Smoking is a major step forward and strengthen the identification and treatment of tobacco addiction by health professionals across service settings. It will define best practice for care of people who smoke in the general adult population, as well as providing a special focus on helping women who are pregnant and users of secondary mental health services.

Welcoming the new guideline Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “As 18 per cent of people in Ireland currently smoke, it is vital that we make every contact count and support these smokers in their quitting journey so that they can benefit from the immediate and long-lasting health effects. The launch of these new National Clinical Effectiveness Guidelines will ensure that putting in place best practice for healthcare professionals will help those wanting to quit cigarettes once and for all. These new guidelines are to be hugely welcomed as they will give both smokers and healthcare professionals the reassurance and confidence that the advice being provided has been set to the highest international standard.”

"Most want to stop smoking but too many try to stop without support."

Dr Paul Kavanagh, Public Health Specialist

Dr Paul Kavanagh, Chair of the Guideline Development Group and Public Health Medicine Specialist, HSE said, “Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Ireland. People who smoke are worried about the impact it has on their lives and their loved ones. Most want to stop smoking but too many try to stop without support. Yet there are three simple but powerful steps which every healthcare professional can take to maximise the chance that someone who smokes can successfully stop – asking about smoking, offering advice to stop, and providing practical support through arranging referral to a stop smoking advisor and stop smoking medicines.”

Support is available to stop smoking

Quit. ie is Ireland’s dedicated smoking cessation service and smokers can give themselves the best chance of stopping by following the plan, which sees thousands of people successfully give up each year.

The HSE QUIT service provides personalised, free support by phone, email, SMS, and live chat. Smokers can free call 1800 201 203 or visit www.QUIT.ie for stop smoking tips and resources, a free QUIT Kit, and to create a QUIT Plan. Peer-to-peer support is available on the QUIT Facebook Page www.facebook.com/HSEQUIT or on Twitter at HSE QUIT @HSEQuitTeam  #TheLastStop #QuitandWin.

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clinical guidelines heart disease quit smoking stop smoking stroke

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