April 5 2013
On April 5 2013, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine published a feature article “The UK walks the walk in the war against tobacco”, looking at the achievements made by Britain compared to other countries and its plans for the immediate future.
Dr Neal Navani, who was asked to contribute expert comment for the feature, supports the use of a rage of smoking cessation strategies in individual patients.
Plain cigarette packaging to be introduced in Scotland
Dr Navani welcomes the move by the Scottish Government, announced at the end of March, to put cigarettes and other products in plain packets with no branding, just prominent health warnings. Australia made plain packaging legal last year and more countries are expected to follow suit, including other parts of the UK.
Data on the real-life effects is being collected but a considerable amount of evidence already exists that using plain packaging changes smoking rates and perceptions, particularly in young people. This is based on interviews with smokers, including major projects done at Stirling University and Bristol University.
Smoking cessation aids
Many smokers find it helpful to use products such as nicotine gum, nicotine patches and the newer electronic cigarettes, which deliver nicotine but not the other tobacco ingredients directly into the lungs. Dr Navani supports the use of different aids and says that their benefits by far outweigh their risks when compared to the harm caused by continued smoking.
Reducing passive smoking
The Lancet Respiratory Medicine article describes recent research that shows Britain leading the way in the fight against smoking. However, there is still the need to take things further and Dr Navani welcomes efforts to reduce children’s exposure to second hand smoke, particularly in the home and in private cars.
He also agrees with some NHS Trusts that are banning smoking anywhere on their premises, including grounds and car parks. Hospitals are already technically smoke-free zones but many smokers flout the rules and smoke close to entrances and in car parks, prompting a stricter ban by some authorities.