Smokers looking to kick the habit in the New Year will find it easier to get help as of today. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) is launching its new programme, Smokefree Services. The new programme represents one of the most determined and comprehensive efforts ever mounted in Scotland to help smokers stop and to discourage others from taking up the habit.
The ambitious service brings together for 2008 all the different existing smoking related projects within NHSGGC under one single, easy-to-use brand identity. Smokefree Services aims to cut the local smoking rate from its present level of 30% (the highest proportion anywhere in Scotland), by making it much simpler for smokers to get help.
Liz Grant is one of the two co-ordinators of Smokefree Services. She said: "From today, Smokefree Services will provide one single, easy to use source of help for smokers who want to give up. By bringing together all services under this new banner of Smokefree Services, we hope that it will be much simpler to access help. It's obviously not easy to give up cigarettes and knowing where to get help is half the battle.
"From today, all the services NHSGGC run are available under one name, one freephone number and one place to start - 0800 389 3210."
NHSGGC is determined in 2008 to build on the massive success seen by the national smoking ban in public places since its introduction in 2006. Significant further efforts are planned for 2008 towards the drive to make Glasgow and Clyde smokefree. The health board serves around a quarter of the population of Scotland and already has the most extensive programme of stop smoking help in Scotland, with over 65,000 smokers seeking help since 2003. It is hoped that that number will be increased by making it easier to seek assistance.
Liz Grant said: "A massive amount of work goes on all year round on smoking prevention and smoking cessation and now all of that is coming under the umbrella of Smokefree Services. We've created a whole new identity to make it easy to recognise where you can get help, support, treatment and advice.
"It covers all the work that's underway - that means you can access Smokefree Services in every local pharmacy and through your GP practice. Mums will be offered the help of Smokefree Services to give up smoking during pregnancy and of course Smokefree Services will be hard at work in local primary and secondary schools trying to prevent young people starting to smoke at all."
Mental health patients have access to help from Smokefree Services, as are patients in all acute hospitals across NHSGGC (which are already smokefree). Patients who wish to stop smoking while in hospitals are seen by a specialist advisor who can arrange Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) if appropriate, and arrange for ongoing support.
Tobacco remains the single most preventable cause of ill-health and death in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with around 280,000 smokers living within the health board boundaries. The highest smoking rates are found in the East and the North of the city, at 37.5%. In Barlanark and Easterhouse, levels rise to 52%. The lowest levels of smoking are found in East Dunbartonshire (18.6%) and East Renfrewshire (19.2%).
NHSGGC's Director of Public Health Dr Linda de Caestecker said: "Cutting smoking levels is one of NHSGGC's top priorities. Around 29% of deaths at all ages are attributable to smoking and here in Greater Glasgow and Clyde we have more smokers than the Scottish average. It's absolutely vital, therefore, that we make it as easy as possible for people to give up. Smokefree Services is all about making sure that, whoever you are, whatever your age or gender or where you live, you can get all the help you need.
"Smokefree Services can help you in any number of ways. We can give specialist help to all smokers through our community pharmacies and we can offer extra assistance to smokers who have other needs too:
* Smokefree Training Services for NHSGGC staff, suitable for anyone who is expected to (or has the opportunity to) raise the issue of smoking in their job.
* Smokefree Hospital Services are available in all hospitals for smokers who are hospital in-patients
* Smokefree Pharmacy Services in Greater Glasgow and Clyde community pharmacies offer NRT and brief support for smokers for up to 12 weeks on a drop-in, no appointment necessary basis
* Smokefree Community Services offer support groups, advice and NRT
* Smokefree Youth Services available in primary and secondary schools, providing preventative information and advice
* Smokefree Pregnancy Services offered to all women booking for antenatal care
"It's all absolutely free of charge and all you need to do in the first instance is to pick up the phone or log on to your computer. We're approaching a new year now and it's the perfect time to get rid of bad old habits like smoking."
For more information on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Smokefree Services please phone free on 0800 389 3210 (9am-9pm).
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429. ) NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's Smokefree Services can also be contacted on 0141 201 4959