New initiative to help smokers quit habit

Pharmacist John Pitkethly.
Pharmacist John Pitkethly.

Smokers who want to stub out the habit can access medication to help them do it much easier than before.

A new initiative is being piloted by North Tyneside Council’s Stop Smoking Service where vouchers can be redeemed at community pharmacies in the borough.

The authority took over responsibility for the coordination of the Stop Smoking Service in the borough last year. It is delivered on behalf of the authority, by trained professionals within pharmacies, out in the community at drop-in clinics, as well as in GP surgeries.

Previously, those who are assessed to benefit from medication, including Nicotine Replacement Therapy or Champix, may have needed to visit their GP to get a prescription to access the treatment.

Now people attending a public health commissioned Stop Smoking service for support may be provided with a voucher by an accredited adviser which can then be exchanged for the medication through an appropriate pharmacy.

Coun Lesley Spillard, cabinet member for public health, said: “I am pleased that we are able to make it even easier for our residents to take control of their smoking habit.

“The service has a great reputation, with nine out of 10 smokers recommending it to others. It’s a great way to get support and figures show you’re up to four times more likely to quit with the free support from the friendly stop smoking staff.

Pharmacist, John Pitkethly, whose pharmacy in Howdon is part of the new pilot, said: “I am delighted that we can make it easier for our customers to access the medication they need to help them stop smoking without the need of a visit to their GP to get a prescription.

“Pharmacies are at the heart of the community and can already provide a wide range of advice to people on their health needs from our friendly and trained team, and support GP’s in ensuring that their surgeries are available to those who need medical treatment. “

For general enquiries about the North Tyneside Step Smoking Service, including to find out about the locations where it is provided, call 0345 2000 101 and say ‘NO SMOKE’.

For further information visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk