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More health practitioners to join smoking battle


Damien O'Connor

31 January, 2008
More health practitioners to join battle against smoking

Midwives, dentists and other health practitioners will now be able to distribute cards for subsidised nicotine patches and gum to patients who smoke.

Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor said over 10,000 health practitioners will now be able to distribute Quit Cards to their patients as part of new moves to increase access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

"Evidence shows that using NRT during a quit attempt doubles the chances of quitting long-term. For the price of a pack of cigarettes, smokers will be able to obtain an eight week supply of nicotine patches or gum,” said Mr O’Connor.

From 1 February, all medical practitioners, including GPs, and midwives, dentists, optometrists and nurse practitioners will automatically be included in the Quit Cards (NRT) programme.

Mr O’Connor said increased access to NRT is the latest part of the government’s ongoing tobacco control programme.

“Tobacco control is a high priority for this Labour-led government. In Budget 2007, the Labour-led government invested $43.6 million in additional funding over four years for smoking cessation services.

“Reducing the burden of chronic disease remains a key priority for this Government and supporting people to quit smoking is an important part of this.”

The widened access to subsidised NRT coincides with the introduction of pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in late February, which is expected to increase quit attempts.

Currently, health professionals must complete a training course before being eligible to distribute Quit Cards and there are only about 400 GPs participating in the programme across the country.

Quit Cards are also delivered via the Government-funded Quitline and through the Quit Group’s website www.quit.org.nz

With Quit Cards smokers can obtain an eight week supply of nicotine patches and/or gum for a cost of between $10 and $20. Later this year, the scheme will be expanded to include nicotine lozenges.

ENDS

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