More than half of all smokers in smoking cessation programmes in Wales were treated by community pharmacies this year, official figures have revealed.
The Welsh Government estimated that 53% (7,842) of all those using smoking cessation services in Wales sought help from community pharmacy in 2017/18, making pharmacies the most popular pathway in Wales for this service.
In Wales, smokers can make a quit attempt through four pathways: community pharmacies, the national service Help Me Quit Wales, in house hospital-based services and in-house GP-based services.
The data showed that the number of patients using smoking cessation services has steadily been increasing since 2016/17.
Over the past three years, there has been a 7% rise in the number of people using smoking cessation services in Wales – from 13,737 in 2015/16 to 14,783 in 2017/18.
Over the same period, the proportion of ‘co-validated’ smokers also increased from 5,239 to 6,363 (18%).
‘Good use of pharmacists’ skills’
Commenting on the figures, Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said that using community pharmacies improves access for people wanting to stop smoking, makes good use of pharmacist’s skills and takes pressure off GPs.
He added: ‘It is encouraging to see an increase in the numbers of smokers accessing services in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter, which is in line with a steady increase over the last three years. The number of people successfully quitting through these services is also increasing.
‘The Welsh Government is committed to providing a range of actions to support anyone who is looking to quit. Alongside the highly effective Help Me Quit service, which offers group support to help smokers quit, we are also increasing access through community pharmacies.
‘It is clear these policies are starting to pay off.’