Global recognition for RACGP smoking cessation guidelines

Morgan Liotta

25/05/2020 10:16:50 AM

The college has been named as one of the recipients of the WHO World No Tobacco Day 2020 awards.

RACGP smoking cessation guidelines
While such recognition is a positive step, the RACGP remains aware there is still more to be done in the fight against smoking.

The awards recognise the contributions to tobacco control of individuals or organisations in each of the six World Health Organization (WHO) regions.
Published on the World Health Organization (WHO) website, the awards are announced ahead of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May.
The RACGP, one of the Western Pacific Region awardees, has been recognised for its Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals.
The updated guidelines were released in early 2020 and provide up-to-date, evidence-based recommendations that can be used by a wide range of health professionals when assisting patients to quit smoking.
Professor Nick Zwar, Chair of the guidelines’ Expert Advisory Group, said achieving such international recognition is a positive step forward, but there is still more that health professionals could do to help their patients quit smoking.
‘We must not forget that the battle is far from over,’ he said.
‘Australia has achieved strong results in tobacco control and smoking rates, with daily smoking nearly halved from 24% in 1991 to 12.8% in 2013.
‘However, it’s not all good news. There has been a slowing in the rate of decline with little change in prevalence from 2013 at 12.8% to 2016 at 12.2%.
‘It is important for health professionals to take full advantage of our guidelines and adapt how they are helping their patients quit smoking to use the most effective and evidence-based approaches.’
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has also welcomed news of the college being recognised for its efforts in smoking cessation.
‘It is extremely encouraging that the WHO has recognised the RACGP’s strong advocacy in this vital area of public health,’ he said.
‘In Australia we have made massive inroads; however, we must remember that tobacco products still cause extraordinary harm to many people and there is much more work to be done.
‘First and foremost we recommend allowing greater flexibility in prescribing for smoking cessation pharmacotherapy, including nicotine replacement therapy [NRT].’
The smoking cessation guidelines detail a number of significant developments, including recommendations for the use of combination NRT, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes as a potential second-line treatment, and the three-step brief intervention approach ­– Ask, Advise, Help.
During development of the guidelines, the Expert Advisory Group addressed main barriers cited by health professionals on providing smoking cessation advice, evident in the update.
Among those are cost-related barriers, and the RACGP has called for greater flexibility in prescribing smoking cessation pharmacotherapy and more affordable options.
‘Currently, combination NRT is not PBS-subsidised, yet it is proven to be the most effective form of this type of therapy,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘If we can change the PBS rules and cut costs for pharmacotherapy options … we can help many more Australians quit smoking for good.’
Nomination support letters backing the RACGP’s smoking cessation advocacy were received from VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
The letters outlined the college’s media presence and submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration opposing the approval of ‘heat not burn’ tobacco products in Australia, as part of the organisation’s high profile stance against tobacco giant Philip Morris International.
Support for the guidelines was also noted for the fact they are applicable across all healthcare settings and backed by the latest available evidence.
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