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New standard addresses reducing tobacco-related harm

A National Institute for Health and Care Excellence quality standard seeks to support people who want to cut down on the amount they smoke

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a standard on reducing tobacco-related harm for people who struggle to quit smoking.

Tobacco smoking remains the single greatest cause of preventable illness and early death in England, accounting for 79,100 deaths among adults aged 35 and over in 2011.

It causes the majority of lung cancer cases in the UK, it is linked to many other cancers, and also accounts for deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease.

The new standard aims to support people who are unable to quit smoking in one single step, but want to reduce the amount they smoke. It is particularly aimed at helping people who are highly dependent on nicotine.

Interventions include advice on using and obtaining licensed nicotine-containing products.

NICE deputy chief executive Gill Leng said: ‘The best way to reduce the harm from smoking is to stop completely, and the best chance of doing this is still to quit in one step. However, nicotine inhaled from smoking tobacco is highly addictive which is why people find it so difficult to stop smoking - but the main harm from smoking is the tar in tobacco.

'For people who have been unable to stop in one step, reducing how much they smoke with the support of licensed nicotine-containing products such as patches or gum, and advice from stop smoking services, can help.’

Read the NICE guidance: Smoking: hard reduction

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