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Supporting smoking cessation: a guide for health professionals

smoking cessationSmoking still remains the behavioral risk factor responsible for the highest levels of preventable and premature death, despite smoking rates continuing to fall in Australia. Such is the lethal magnitude of smoking that we only have to stop two potential lifelong smokers to save a life. There is no other intervention for a common problem that is so effective. There is good evidence to suggest that smokers are more likely to successfully quit with the help of their GP or other health professionals, including practice nurses. Spending just a few minutes talking to patients about quitting smoking can lead to behavioral change.

Supporting smoking cessation: a guide for health professionals was published in December 2011. A high level update of the guideline was undertaken in July 2014, which resulted in the following areas being updated:

  • Data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates
  • Additional evidence from a Cochrane review indicating that combination NRT or varenicline are the most effective forms of pharmacotherapy
  • Update of Nicotine replacement therapy section encouraging health professionals to consider combination NRT
  • Addition of information on new types of NRT and removal of types no longer available
  • Update of evidence confirming that varenicline does not increase the rates of suicidal events, depression or agitation/aggression
  • Evidence that varenicline can be used as indicated in patients with or without a history of mental illness
  • Update of section on smoking in pregnancy with clearer advice on role of NRT
  • Expansion of the section on e-cigarettes with more information on current state of knowledge of their potential role and possible risks
  • In addition to suggesting referral to Quit services, the option of referral to a smoking cessation professional has been added

The development of this guide has been supported by an unrestricted educational grant to the RACGP by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia. The RACGP has independently created these guidelines and holds editorial rights over them.

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