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Smoking cessation health centre

Getting professional help

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who want to stop smoking. It looks at how help and advice from a health professional can make it easier to stop smoking. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Yes. Getting advice, counselling, and support from a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or trained counsellor can help you stop smoking. Telephone advice or self-help materials, such as leaflets, may also help you stop.

Pregnant women who smoke and smokers who are at high risk of disease caused by smoking are especially likely to benefit from advice and counselling.smoking-dr-patient_default.jpg

What is it?

Your GP, pharmacist, nurse, or counsellor may suggest that you stop smoking, explain why, and give you a few tips on how to do it. Or you may take part in group sessions that are part of a stop-smoking programme.

There are many different types of counselling. Here are some examples of what counselling can mean:

  • Your GP telling you about the benefits of stopping and giving you some leaflets with useful advice and helpline phone numbers in them

  • A weekly session with someone who has been specially trained to help people stop smoking (this could be a nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or counsellor)

  • Group therapy with a counsellor, where you and other people in the programme may talk through the problems of stopping and share tips on how to cope when you're tempted to smoke. Sometimes these programmes include breath tests to make sure nobody is cheating. The tests measure the amount of carbon monoxide you breathe out.

You may want to get counselling in addition to another type of treatment. For example, if you're using nicotine replacement therapy, you may also want to take part in group therapy. Ask your GP about what's available in your area.

Most of the tips you'll see on stopping smoking have been developed from techniques used by counsellors. If you want to try some of these, see Tips to help you give up smoking.

You can get telephone advice on how to stop smoking. The NHS offers a smoking helpline, which smokers and their families can call for free, expert advice. It's open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. The number is 0800 022 4 332.

You could get information from self-help materials. They can be leaflets, compact discs, DVDs, or computer programs.

How can it help?

Getting advice and support from health care professionals seems to help people stop smoking. For example, if you're in a group of people who all want to stop, and you all meet regularly with a nurse to talk about it, you may be more likely to stop than if you just get a leaflet about stopping from your GP. [43] [44] [45]

  • Without any advice, about 4 in 100 people stop smoking for at least one year. [43]

  • With brief advice from a doctor, about 6 in 100 manage to stop for at least one year. [43]

  • In one study, 13 out of 100 people stopped smoking for at least six months following advice from a counsellor. In this study, 9 out of 100 people stopped smoking without counselling. [44] Most of the people being studied were in hospital, so they might have been more determined to stop.

Last Updated: June 21, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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