SMOKERS in Huddersfield are getting more help to quit thanks to a new scheme which enables pharmacists to offer treatment and advice.
The initiative, being run in conjunction with Kirklees Primary Care Trust, means that local pharmacists can offer nicotine replacement therapy without prescription for the first time.
They can also help customers wean off cigarettes by offering them advice to change their lifestyles and monitoring their progress with specialist equipment.
Local pharmacists have signed up to become smoking advisors with the scheme by attending courses held by the Smoking Advice Service at Huddersfield’s Princess Royal Health Centre.
Training given on the course included information on all the nicotine replacement products, which include patches, gum, inhalers and lozenges and advice on how to help motivate smokers to quit.
Those who have completed the courses can help addicts quit by offering them the nicotine replacement treatment programme best suited to their lifestyle and monitoring their progress on the treatment by conducting breath tests with a carbon monoxide monitor.
Dickinson’s Chemist at New Hey Road in Lindley has already signed up to the scheme, which was rolled out across Kirklees at the end of December.
Val Norcliffe, a pharmacy technician at the store, said: “The customer comes in and we look at how many cigarettes they smoke and discuss the best treatment for them depending on their lifestyle.
“We will then typically give them two weeks supply and make another appointment for another two weeks time before their medication runs out and they keep coming back until they are happy that the treatment has worked.
“We look at their lifestyle to try and help them and can see how well they’re doing with the carbon monoxide monitor. A lot of people don’t know that pharmacists are running the service, but its really useful because it’s so convenient.
“If people pay for prescriptions then they do have to pay the same fee for the treatment, but it’s far less expensive than paying full price for the products– it can cost £17.50 for a pack of seven patches– and I think this will help a lot more people to quit because it’s more affordable.”
Owner Carl Dickinson added: “It’s a service that GPs and stop smoking clinics already offer, but now its been rolled out to local pharmacies. It’s already very popular with GPs, but they are not always accessible, especially when people are working and can’t easily get to their doctors.
“This is why it’s particularly beneficial that pharmacies are now offering nicotine replacement therapy because they are conveniently located and offer more flexibility for people who are working.
“Because of the new Pharmacy Contract, pharmacists are starting to do more than just dispensing medicine and are taking a more active role in people’s lifestyles.
“The scheme has been adopted by quite a few pharmacists in the Huddersfield area and we’re hoping that if it is successful we will be able to offer even more services for the public in the future.”
To make an appointment to see a smoking adviser at Dickinson’s Chemist contact the store on 01484 421987.
To find your nearest pharmacy offering the service, contact the Smoking Advice Service on 01484 344285.