To mark No Smoking Day on Wednesday 8 March, Dr Sanjay Agrawal, Consultant Lung Specialist at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust and Chair of the British Thoracic Society’s Tobacco Group, commented:
“No Smoking Day is an ideal time to reflect on how far we have come in supporting the majority of smokers in UK who would like to stop.
Historically, we have done well on this issue. Through a combination of the great efforts of people wanting to live tobacco-free lives and the roll out of effective national strategies, including the introduction of the NHS stop smoking support service, we have helped reduce smoking prevalence from around 45% of the population in the early 1970s to below 20% in 2016.
We could and should build on this success, however the signs are we’re doing the reverse. The Government has delayed publishing its new Tobacco Plan for over a year, with some local stop smoking support services being cut due to lack of funding.
One area of particularly concern is how NHS hospitals across the UK are falling woefully short of national standards on helping smoking patients to quit and enforcing their smoke-free premises.
This is a major own goal – we’re missing out on a golden opportunity to offer often the most effective treatment for illnesses that smokers are admitted with – support and treatment for their tobacco dependence. If patients in other disease areas were not offered, by default, the most effective way to treat their condition – there would probably be an uproar. We must address this urgently.
We call on the Government to publish the Tobacco Plan urgently. Within it we must see effective actions to achieve a truly health-promoting, smoke-free NHS that supports many more smokers who want to stop. This step could revolutionise the health and well-being of thousands and save valuable NHS resources. Delay is not an option.”
Note to Editors:
The British Thoracic Society (BTS) is the UK’s professional body of respiratory specialists.
The Society seeks to improve standards of care for people who have respiratory diseases and to support and develop those who provide that care. A registered charity, it has over 3,000 members including doctors, nurses, respiratory physiotherapists, scientists and other professionals with a respiratory interest.