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Smokers in Europe 'not being given enough help to quit'

A paper published in The Lancet medical journal calls for more action from authorities in Europe to combat smoking with over a quarter of the continent’s population said to be smokers.

DOCTORS SHOULD BE advising patients who smoke that they need to quit on a regular basis including during routine health checks in addition to offering counselling and medication to deal with smoking addiction, according to a new paper published today.

The paper is published as part of a series in The Lancet medical journal today which present different views on ‘controlling the global tobacco epidemic’.

Another paper strongly criticises the “massive failure” of politicians and medical practitioners to implement tobacco control measures across Europe saying that mass media campaigns are underused and provision of services for quitting are lacking.

It is estimated that there are some 120 million smokers in Europe, over a quarter of the continent’s population, with 650,000 preventable deaths from smoking ever year.

A paper by Professor Nancy Rigotti of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School says that incorporating psychological counselling with a pharmacological treatment, such as nicotine patches and chewing gum, is the most effective way for most smokers to quit.

She says that doctors must incorporate treatment for smokers who want to quit into their standard practice by routinely advising patients that they should quit and offering counselling resources as well as prescribing anti-smoking medication.

“By doing so, they can contribute to a reduction of population smoking rates and the enormous toll of tobacco on health,” Professor Rigotti says.

Another paper written by John Britton and Ilze Bogdanovica of the University of Nottingham in England says that many countries in Europe have a poor provision of services for smokers who want to quit.

Their paper points out that despite the UK being described as a “world leader” in providing services for smokers who want to quit, fewer than 10 per cent of smokers actually use these services every year.

“Sustained failure to initiate and support smokers to stop smoking results in a massive toll of avoidable death and disability…,” the authors say.

“The sustained failure of so many governments to introduce simple policies to prevent smoking in so many European countries, to the detriment of the health and well-being of millions of people represents a massive failure of political, and medical, leadership.”

Read: 3,726 lives saved by introducing the smoking ban in Ireland in 2004

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