Smoking ban ups cessation demand

Primary care smoking cessation services are set to come under pressure as England prepares for a complete ban on smoking in public places next year.

From summer 2007, smoking in all pubs, clubs and workplaces will be illegal after MPs in the House of Commons voted by 384 to 184 in favour of a blanket ban rather than a partial one.

Doctors and other healthcare workers have welcomed the ban.

Dr Mike Ward, deputy chairman of the British Thoracic Society's tobacco committee, said: 'We will see an improvement in the health of people with chronic lung disease, heart disease, stroke patients, patients who have had surgery. A large portion of people who pass through a GP surgery will benefit from this ban.'

He added that fears that banning smoking in bars and clubs would increase the exposure of children to second-hand smoke by encouraging people to smoke more at home were unfounded.

'The evidence shows that where there are smoking bans, people cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke. They do not smoke more at home. In fact, when at home they are more likely to smoke outside,' he said.

Dr Karen Toque, director of science and strategy at the North West Public Health Observatory in Liverpool, said that the introduction of a full smoking ban rather than a partial one would help cut health inequalities associated with deprivation.

She added: 'Smoking is correlated with deprivation. Over 85 per cent of smoking-related mortality is attributable to it.'

The number of patients in England who used NHS Stop Smoking Services and successfully quit between April and September 2005 was up 23 per cent on same record the previous year, according to the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Over the same period, GPs in England wrote more than 968,500 prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy and nearly 63,000 prescriptions for bupropion, at a total cost to the NHS of £22.7 million.

The number of prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy is likely to increase further once the ban is in place, according to Dr Toque.

'In places where smoking bans have been introduced in the US, they have resulted in a drop in smoking prevalence of around 4 per cent,' she said. 'We have to ensure that services to help people quit are in place.'


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