The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England have published updated guidelines on stop smoking interventions and services.
The guidelines recommend that groups at the highest risk of tobacco-related harm, such as individuals with mental health problems, smoking related illnesses and pregnant women, should be prioritised when it comes to stop smoking interventions.
They advise that commissioners and managers of stop smoking services should set performance targets, including treating at least 5% of the estimated local population who smoke each year and achieving a successful quit rate of at least 35% at 4 weeks, based on everyone who starts treatment, and with success defined as not having smoked in the fourth week after the quit date.
The guidelines also say that at every opportunity health and social care workers in primary and community settings should ask people if they smoke and advise them to stop smoking in a way that is sensitive to their preferences and needs, providing them with options to help them quit.
For anyone interested in using e-cigarettes, the guidelines state that health and social care workers should explain that although many people have found them helpful when quitting smoking cigarettes, the evidence for their use is still developing, including research on their long-term health impact.
“Many people use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking… the committee considered it likely that they are substantially less harmful than smoking,” explained Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE.
“As a relatively new product, the long-term impact of their short-term use, as well as the long-term health impact of their long-term use, is still developing. The committee was concerned that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing.
“Our guidance therefore recommends that healthcare professionals help people make informed decisions on their use,” she added.