Quitting smoking has just got easier for Cantabrians, thanks to community pharmacies helping people break the habit.
People who smoke and live in Canterbury now have improved access to subsidised nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.
Since the start of this month (May) community pharmacies have been able to distribute Quitcards to people who want to quit smoking, which can be used as vouchers to get a subsidised supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for only $3. NRT reduces cigarette cravings and roughly doubles the chances of successfully quitting.
David Meates, Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) chief executive, says community pharmacists are a highly respected profession and people thinking about quitting are likely to respond positively to the advice and support they give.
"Pharmacies are perfectly placed to identify people in their community who want to quit, provide them with patches, gum and lozenges, and link them with smoking cessation support," Mr Meates says.
"Giving pharmacists and their staff the ability to distribute Quitcards and dispense NRT means more of Canterbury's health professionals have the tools and knowledge to help people quit smoking. More than 75 percent of smokers want to quit, so increasing access to NRT can only be a good thing." Mr Meates says many people in Canterbury turned a blind eye to smoking after the earthquakes.
"As a community we need to correct the commonly accepted view that smoking is a valid strategy for coping with stress. In actual fact, smoking is an addiction that has been shown to increase anxiety, tension and stress levels. Becoming a Quitcard provider will give pharmacists and their staff another tool when giving evidence-based advice that supports people to quit smoking," he says.
To become a Quitcard provider pharmacists and pharmacy staff need to undertake an e-learning module developed by the Ministry of Health. So far over 350 pharmacy staff had completed the training and 70 out of Canterbury's 108 pharmacies have registered to provide Quitcards and NRT to smokers.
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