GPs urged to act over patients' smokeless tobacco use

GPs should encourage people in South Asian communities to stop using smokeless tobacco and offer referral to cessation schemes, according to NICE.

NICE: GPs must give advice to patients using smokeless tobacco products
NICE: GPs must give advice to patients using smokeless tobacco products

In public health guidance for the NHS, the watchdog warned that people are often unaware these products can cause serious health problems such as oral cancer, MI and stroke.

NICE urged GPs to offer brief advice to help patients quit, and consider referral to cessation programmes.

This brief advice can take only a few minutes, and may include assessing the person's willingness to quit, giving behavioural support and self-help reading material.

Awareness of the health problems caused by the products is low among health professionals, NICE said.

Yet, use of smokeless tobacco products - including paan, gutka, shupari and betel quid - is thought to be why South Asian women are almost four times more likely to develop oral cancers than women from other ethnic groups.

NICE said GP commissioners need to provide access to cessation services as part of local tobacco control strategies.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE, said: 'Often the people using these products aren’t aware that they contain tobacco, nor that they could be at greater risk of oral cancers or cardiovascular disease.'

He added: 'We hope that this guidance will inform health professionals of the risks posed by these products, so they can take action by asking patients of South Asian origin if they use smokeless tobacco, making sure they are aware of the health risks, and where appropriate referring people for support to help them stop using these products.'

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