Pharmacists could help reduce smoking rates

Monday, January 21, 2019

Pharmacist breaking a cigarette in halfEnlisting the help of pharmacists could help in the quest to get people to quit smoking, according a white paper released by the University of Waterloo.

The paper details ways in which an increased role for pharmacists in the public health effort could help curb smoking rates and aim to reduce the estimated 45,000 annual deaths that occur in Canada from tobacco use.

The week of January 21 to 27 is National Non-Smoking Week in Canada.

Nardine Nakhla“We know that success quitting is more likely when people receive advice from one or more healthcare professionals, and when medication and behaviour counselling are used together,” said Nardine Nakhla, professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.

 

“As the gatekeepers of, and experts on, pharmacotherapy, pharmacists are well-positioned and uniquely qualified to offer consistent support and evidence-based medication recommendations to Canadians who are trying to quit.”

The services a pharmacist can provide vary across Canada, so the white paper analyzed the scopes of practice of pharmacists in each jurisdiction and proposed a unified framework to support Canadians who are seeking smoking cessation.  

Counselling on quitting strategies, making self-care recommendations, and prescribing Schedule I medications to help people quit all fall under the umbrella of smoking cessation services, and Canadians can access these services from pharmacists across the country. 

“Pharmacists are embedded in communities and often have long hours, making them easily accessible to Canadians who are looking for support in their quit attempts,” Nakhla said. “They are knowledgeable about the wide range of products available to help people quit, and possess the skills and tools necessary to help guide patients towards a smoke-free lifestyle.”

In developing the white paper, Nakhla and her team consulted key opinion leaders and subject matter experts in smoking cessation from each province and territory in Canada, as well as advocacy bodies, industry, and government. 

Based on feedback from this group, the team has proposed a unified framework to guide Canadian pharmacists and is looking to harmonize the tools and resources available to pharmacists to ensure consistent care and support for Canadian patients, regardless of where in the country they reside.

Learn more about the Pharmacist-Led Smoking Cessation Initiative and read the white paper at the Initiative's website.

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