Train GPs to spot smokeless tobacco use, says NICE

GPs should be trained to recognise symptoms of smokeless tobacco use to cut high incidence of cancers and vascular disease among users, according to NICE. By Helen Harjak

Draft NHS guidance published by the institute aims to tackle use of products such as gutka, pan masala, shupari, and betel quid among South Asian communities in England.

NICE wants health professionals including GPs, dentists, health visitors and midwives to undergo formal training to increase awareness of symptoms. This would help ensure GPs can educate their patients on the potential health risks and offer cessation advice.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the NICE Centre for Public Health Excellence, said: ‘Generally, awareness of the problems caused by this particular type of smokeless tobacco use is low within mainstream NHS services. As a result, there’s a clear requirement to assess the needs of local communities and provide targeted support to help people of South Asian origin stop using these products.’

Smokeless tobacco products are associated with serious health problems, such as oral cancer, serious tooth decay, MI, stroke and problems in pregnancy.

The use of these products is thought to be one of the main reasons why South Asian women are nearly four times more likely to develop oral cancers than women from other ethnic groups in England.

The guidance also calls for the NHS to work with South Asian communities to understand their concerns and create schemes to help people quit.

A consultation on the plans will run until 25 April.

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