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Smoking habits and cessation programme in an Australian teaching hospital.

Australian and New Zealand journal of medicine

Australia, Central Nervous System Stimulants, therapeutic use, Chi-Square Distribution, Female, Hospitals, Teaching, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Nicotine, analogs & derivatives, Occupational Health Services, Personnel, Hospital, Polymethacrylic Acids, Polyvinyls, Prevalence, Questionnaires, Smoking Cessation, Treatment Outcome, economics, Tobacco Use Cessation Products

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      Abstract

      Data on prevalence of cigarette smoking by hospital employees are limited in Australia, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many health sector employees continue to smoke despite abundant evidence regarding the harmful effects of this habit. Nicotine is an addictive drug and arguably this should be known better in the health industry than in any other industry. Despite having this knowledge at their disposal, health sector employers rarely provide assistance to employees, relying instead on restrictive policies to reduce smoking in the workplace. To assist employees to quit smoking, we instituted a medium intensity Stop Smoking Programme, run by a clinical pharmacist offering nicotine patches and support on a weekly basis. A principal aim of the service was to redress the imbalance between the availability of cigarettes and the most effective nicotine replacement therapy, the trandermal nicotine patch. Following 18 months operation of this service, we surveyed hospital employees to ascertain smoking rates and views on smoking cessation in this South Australian teaching hospital. In the first 18 months of operation, 111 staff members availed themselves of the service. At the first follow up period (three months), 21 were not contactable, 29 were successful in not smoking and 61 were still smoking. Six of the 29 who were not smoking at three months resumed smoking by six months, and a further four resumed smoking by 12 months. At the time of this report, 12 of the remaining 19 non smokers had completed two years since quitting and a further three of these had resumed regular smoking by this time. The cost of providing the service was modest at approximately $180.00 per known successful quitter. Results from the survey showed that 12.4% of hospital employees were regular smokers. Smoking prevalence was not equally distributed with female employees being twice as likely to smoke as their male counterparts and employees in the catering department having the highest smoking prevalence (23.8%). Although the prevalence of cigarette smoking by employees of this teaching hospital is lower than for the general community, health sector employers can reduce smoking prevalence further by providing assistance to their employees to quit smoking. The Stop Smoking Programme we describe is effective and could be replicated by other hospitals and similar organisations.

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