Pharmacists urged to sign up smokers to quit


Throughout September, Lung Foundation Australia is appealing to pharmacists to encourage people who want to quit smoking to sign up to quit in October

Today, the Federal Government raised taxes on cigarettes to further cut smoking rates and reduce death and disease caused by smoking.

This is the final of four 12.5% tax increases since 2013 and will see smokers pay at least $1.30 to $3.35 more tax per pack, depending on pack size, taking the average price of a pack of cigarettes to around $22 to $25. If a pack-a-day smoker quits, it is likely to save them more than $6,500 per year.

With a further series of four annual 12.5% tax increases proposed by the Federal Government, the average price of a packet of cigarettes in Australia is set to climb to about $40 by September 2020

“At a crucial time when today’s tax rise increase may trigger people who smoke to stop their dependence on tobacco, we have QUIT4october, a unique month long smoking cessation initiative dedicated to supporting people in their quit smoking journey,” says Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan.

“The campaign is urging people who want to quit smoking to visit their pharmacist and GP to discuss best practice smoking cessation and develop a personalised quitting plan,” she says.

Tobacco Treatment Specialist and University of NSW Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn says research shows the most successful way to quit smoking is with the support of a health professional.

“Professional support enhances motivation, teaches the individual practical quitting skills and builds a supportive environment for the quitting journey.

“Pharmacotherapy eases the physical discomfort of nicotine withdrawal, reduces cravings and is recommended for all nicotine-dependent smokers who are ready to quit,” Dr Mendelsohn says.

Lung Foundation Australia is appealing to pharmacists to encourage customers who want to quit smoking to participate in QUIT4october. Following the success of Quit4october last year, pharmacists are asked to continue to spread the message to their customers and encourage them to quit.

QUIT4october posters and customer brochures are available to support the activity.

“We know from past tobacco tax rises that many smokers will be motivated to try to quit smoking. However, only three to five per cent of unassisted quit attempts – what many people call going cold turkey – are successful, compared to 25% of those that use health professional support and stop-smoking medication,” Dr Mendelsohn says.

In September, Dr Mendelsohn will be talking with GPs and pharmacists at seminars around Australia about smoking cessation best practice guidelines in preparation for QUIT4october.

Smokers who sign up for QUIT4october during the month of September will start their 31 day quit journey together, on 1st October.

The campaign encourages people to feel connected with other consumers that are trying to quit smoking by commencing their quit journey together.

Dr Mendelsohn says that similar month-long quit smoking campaigns overseas continue to have a strong positive impact.

“We know that smokers are five times more likely to become permanent ex-smokers if they are able to remain smoke free for 28 days.”

Central to the national campaign is an interactive website, www.quit4october.com.au, which provides useful information for consumers and health professionals.

The platform offers GPs and pharmacists a toolkit aimed at providing practical and evidence-based advice to support their conversations with customers about quitting smoking.

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