For Healthcare Professionals
Smoking remains the single greatest preventable cause of death and disability in Australia. Despite the steady decline in smoking rates since the early 1970s, 3 million Australians (nearly 16% of the national adult population) continue to smoke tobacco. Each year, smoking kills around 15,000 Australians with two in every three people who smoke for the duration of their life, die prematurely from their habit.
As a healthcare professional, it is important to identify people who smoke at every opportunity advising them to quit in a clear, personalised non-confrontational way. If you are unable to assist, smokers should be referred to the Quitline (13 78 48) or another healthcare professional with expertise to provide the necessary support. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) provides a comprehensive guidelines on smoking cessation and how to offer support to people quitting smoking.
Best practice treatment for smoking cessation is using a combination of behavioural counselling and pharmacotherapy:
- Behavioural counselling motivates the individual by educating them on practical quitting skills and providing ongoing support.
- Pharmacotherapy eases the physical discomfort of nicotine withdrawal and reduces cravings and is recommended for all nicotine-dependent smokers who are ready to quit.
This best practice treatment produces quit rates of 22 – 32 % varying on the intensity of treatment in comparison to 3 – 5 % quit rate for an unaided quit attempt.