A message on World No Tobacco Day

Date: 31 May 2022

no smoking news

Read this message from Dr Nandita Divekar, Smoking Cessation Lead for Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Today, 31 May 2022, is The World Health Organisation’s 'World No Tobacco Day'. It was created to bring awareness to more people about the dangers and health risks of smoking tobacco, and ultimately, to stop the use of tobacco around the world. Staggeringly, over seven million people are killed across the globe by smoking tobacco alone. Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses. Many of us know smoking is believed to be the leading cause of throat and lung cancers, and a major risk factor in many other types of cancer. However, what is little known is that smoking tobacco is one of the main causes of heart problems and diseases.

Thankfully, smoking rates are coming down in England – yet smoking is still our country’s number one killer. 

Our job in the NHS is to help support the majority of smokers who want to quit. In England, around 60 per cent of smokers want to quit, while 10 per cent of those intend to do so within three months. Currently, around half of all smokers in England try to quit unaided using willpower alone, despite this being the least effective method. Getting support can greatly increase a person’s chances of quitting successfully.

When you see a patient who smokes, who probably has not developed any complications as yet, it’s important that we actually ask that question… There is huge benefit in trying to stop the cycle of things. Advising patients to stop smoking is important for their health because smoking remains the biggest preventable cause of death and morbidity. That short intervention of just mentioning to someone the importance of stopping smoking, in a non-judgemental manner, can make a huge difference. Even if they’re not ready at that moment in time, we give them information so that when they are ready, it may help them.

Indeed, most of us have first hand experience of caring for people whose lives have been destroyed by addiction to smoking tobacco. Many of these long term illnesses and deaths are entirely avoidable. The NHS is in a unique position around prevention – one in four patients in hospital beds are smokers. As well as leading by example, gains in health can be made by the taking every opportunity to engage those patients that smoke. Reducing smoking among patients can reduce hospital admissions, reduce the risk of premature death, and also lead to many benefits you might not realise – such as the effectiveness of some medications and increasing healing after operations.

We must make every contact count – promoting smoking cessation is the most effective thing we as healthcare professionals and clinicians can do to improve health outcomes for our patients who smoke. It is also one of the most effective ways of triggering a quit attempt.

28 per cent of smokers say that a healthcare professionals’ advice would prompt them to make a quit attempt, with a further 35 per cent encouraged to quit at a later date or cut down on the number of cigarettes smoked.

We must do our very best to offer stop smoking advice and referrals to evidenced based support at all relevant points in their journeys through the health system. By talking to patients about smoking we can not only reduce the huge burden of smoking on the NHS but reduce health inequalities and save lives. 

It is never too late to quit.

Please contact Dr Nandita Divekar, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care at nandita.divekar@nhs.net or Sandra.sowah@nhs.net for further support if required.

We will always support our patients and staff to quit.

  • Summary:

    Read this message from Dr Nandita Divekar, Smoking Cessation Lead for Medway NHS Foundation Trust on The World Health Organisation’s 'World No Tobacco Day'.