A sea-change in the traditional mindset of smoking cessation has been mootedby NICE in a radical new guidance. The body’s recommended approach – termed tobacco harm reduction – views a switch from smoking to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as a valid clinical endpoint, rather than only a step towards quitting.

The new recommendation recognises that many smokers may not be able to quit in one step, and the long-term use of medical nicotine is a significantly safer option for both smokers and the people around them.

Although studies suggest that 33% of GPs believe nicotine is either more than or equally as harmful as tobacco smoke, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have found no evidence that medicinal nicotine either causes cancer or is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular events.

Dr Chris Steele, GP and quit smoking expert, commented: “As healthcare professionals, we need to embrace this change in approach if we are to achieve significant progress in helping smokers who find it difficult to stop and therefore prevent long-term stagnation in the decline in quit rates. The alternative is prolonged, severe health problems for millions of people.”

For full guidance visit: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/ live/14178/63996/63996.pdf