The Smoking Conference Wales on 28 and 29 April 2008, provided a useful opportunity to present the International Network and to make contacts and refresh some made at the Edinburgh conference the previous year. Unfortunately I did not succeed in being called to speak at either plenary or specialist sessions.
The conference, arranged by Ash Wales, featured the following:
- The need to establish a climate where no smoking is the norm.
- Growing smoking by women.
- The need to prevent teenagers starting to smoke.
- The increasing threat of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes.
- The role of dentist and pharmacist in education over smoking.
The national smoking restrictions have been a success in Wales. In the international field, smoking among Indians was reported to be less than among Bangladeshis. The dangers of oral tobacco chewing among young Asians was pointed out. Cardiac awareness, and with it knowledge of the dangers of smoking, is rising among Polish groups. Professor Robert West, Cancer Research’s Director of Tobacco Studies, pointed to New Year’s Eve as the biggest motivator for people to resolve to quit smoking. The most popular method adopted to help stop smoking was nicotine replacement therapy. The most popular NRT products were purchased over the counter.
Abstaining from smoking while in hospital is associated with long-term quitting, reported Dr. Doherty, Senior Health Promotion Officer, St Vincent’s University Hospital.
Can the internet be used to help people quit? The feasibility of an interactive web-based technology for smokers to choose their preferred way to quit smoking was outlined. A team led by Glyn Elwyn had developed an on line interactive ‘decision support technology’ for smokers to consider methods and options for cessation, with decision support and follow-up.
There was a call for planning at national and local level to exploit the benefits that pharmacy can provide in supporting patients to stop smoking.
The Welsh Pharmacy Board included in this hospital pharmacists. ‘Hospital pharmacists visit patients on wards on a daily basis so are ideally placed to provide advice and guidance as well as signposting to other services.’
The important role of another profession in and out of hospitals was shown by Carole Bartley. She described the contribution which dentists make to stopping smoking, seeing as they do what she termed the ‘time-bomb in the mouth.
Commendably the conference did not ignore the Armed Forces. This was a subject on which I had hoped to make a contribution. No longer in Britain are Service hospitals centres for spreading the message of quitting smoking, since all have closed, but Service doctors, nurses and dentists are involved in the care of members of the armed forces in National Health Service hospitals, and Service hospitals are maintained by the armed forces of other countries. Annie Owen, Armed Forces Smoking Cessation Co-ordinator, HM Armed Forces, outlined the ‘Stand Easy, Breathe Easy’
campaign current in the UK’s navy, army and air force.
One of the arguments used against the ban in Scotland against smoking in public places was that it would mean people smoking more in the home and so exposing non-smoking spouses and children to greater risk. Sheila Duffy from Scotland reported that there is in fact no evidence of smoking being displaced into homes as a result of the ban on smoking outside.
And Norma Cronin was able to report that the proportion of homes in Ireland which a non-smoking is increasing. Although it was not mentioned, UK hospitals have played their part in making Britain, as Andrew Black noted, the top country in Europe for tobacco control, leading the world in supporting smokers to quit.