Commissioners should consider funding smoking cessation and weight loss services through community pharmacy, new research has found.

The study follows the “clear strategy for the future of public health” to improve healthy life expectancies set by a number of agencies including the World Health Organisation.

Community pharmacies can play a vital role in delivering key public health initiatives, largely as a result of their accessibility particularly in deprived areas, researchers noted.

Community pharmacy-delivered interventions for public health priorities: a systematic review of interventions for alcohol reduction, smoking cessation and weight management is the first systematic study to combine evidence from the three interventions and directly compare the findings with other primary care and community healthcare settings.

Currently six local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) have alcohol reduction services and there are 81 stop smoking services.

The review encompassed 19 studies: two on alcohol reduction, 12 exploring smoking cessation and five examining weight management services and aimed to provide commissioners with evidence on reach, effectiveness and costs.

It concludes community pharmacy-delivered interventions are effective for smoking cessation and that pharmacy is a feasible option for weight management interventions.

The evidence from the two alcohol interventions studied was too limited to draw any conclusions.

“The evidence shows a range of types of smoking cessation interventions that are feasible and effective within community pharmacies, and supports the commissioning of smoking cessation services in a community pharmacy setting.

“Smoking cessation services, contracted as a core part of the national contract, or part of a national ‘advanced’ service, may well be a reasonable option.

“In addition, the evidence shows that weight management services are no less effective compared with those delivered in other primary care settings.

“Therefore, given the potential reach, effectiveness and associated costs of these interventions, commissioners may want to consider using community pharmacies to help deliver some of their smoking cessation and weight management services,” the report concludes.

The review was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme and published in the BMJ.