Pharmacies in England can start offering an advanced smoking cessation service from this week, NHS England and Improvement has announced.  

From tomorrow (10 March), contractors will be able to register for the service which will connect patients looking to drop their smoking habit with a local pharmacy.  

Patients who started their smoking cessation treatment in hospital – and consent to be part of the ongoing service – will be referred to a participating pharmacy of their choice for continued support in the community, according to the draft service specification

The national launch of the service comes after several successful pilots which helped three in five people successfully quit smoking, NHSE said.  

Last week, The Pharmacist reported that the UK has the worst death rate for lung conditions such as asthma in western Europe.  

The latest NHS figures show that more than half a million hospital admissions a year are attributable to smoking. 

A spokesperson from ASH told The Pharmacist that the new investment from NHSE into pharmacy was ‘welcome’.  

‘Pharmacists reach into every community but particularly our most deprived where smokers are more likely to live. 

‘We need all parts of the health and care system to step up and support smokers if we’re to secure the Government’s ambition of a smokefree 2030. This means GPs, hospitals, local authority services and pharmacists together creating communities that champions [quitting] smoking all year round,’ they said. 

Jon Foster, the senior policy officer at Asthma + Lung UK told The Pharmacist that the new pharmacy service was ‘great news’.  

He added: ‘What we really need to see now is proper funding for local stop smoking services so that all smokers get the support they need to quit.  

‘Local authority spending on smoking cessation services has halved in the past five years resulting in 50% fewer people being supported to quit – that’s more than 115,000 people who will continue to struggle with smoking and whose lung health will continue to worsen.  

‘The best way to fund sustainable stop smoking services across the NHS and in the community is with a ‘polluter pays’ levy on the tobacco industry, and we urge the government to implement this as soon as possible.’