Diabetes UK has called for more support for people with diabetes to stop smoking, as a new survey has revealed that significant numbers of smokers with the condition are not being offered support and advice about giving up.
The charity’s annual survey about the healthcare people with diabetes are getting has found that just 45 per cent of smokers were offered support and advice on giving up over the previous 12 months. This is despite the fact that every person with diabetes is supposed to have their smoking status recorded at their annual review and if they are smokers then this should be the start of the process of supporting them to give up.
While the number of smokers who completed the survey is not sufficiently large – just 166 of the 1,643 participants said they smoked – to be confident this is an accurate reflection, it does support anecdotal evidence that significant numbers of smokers are not getting the support they need to stop.
Diabetes UK is concerned by this because smoking is especially harmful for people with diabetes. This is because the condition puts them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke and other circulatory problems, and so if they smoke then the increase to their risk of these conditions is even greater. One in six people with diabetes are smokers and the charity wants more to be done to help reduce this.
It is calling for all GPs to make sure they use the annual recording of people’s smoking status as an opportunity to have a conversation to offer advice and support about stopping. It is also urging people with diabetes who smoke to start the New Year by making a resolution to give up.
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Smoking dramatically increases risk of a number of conditions, including cancer and heart disease, and so is extremely dangerous whether you have diabetes or not. But because diabetes puts a strain on the circulatory system and smoking adds to that strain, smoking is even worse for you if you have the condition.
“Given this, it is important that healthcare professionals make sure the annual conversation they have with people with diabetes about smoking as part of their care planning review is the start of a process of supporting smokers to give up. Providing information about, and access to, the different ways to help people give up smoking is an important part of improving support for people with diabetes.
“Also, structured education programmes help people understand what they need to manage their condition as well as providing effective motivation to support people to give up smoking but far too few people go on them. Supporting people to give up smoking is one of the many potential benefits and GPs have an important role in encouraging people to attend.
“We want to raise awareness of how harmful smoking is when you mix it with diabetes and get the message across to people with diabetes who smoke that giving up could be the best thing they ever do for their health. Making it their New Year’s Resolution to give up could mean they see many more New Year’s Days than would otherwise be the case.”
Getting advice and support if you are a smoker is one of Diabetes UK’s 15 Healthcare Essentials, which set out the healthcare that every person with diabetes is entitled to. These include the nine annual checks that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends everyone with diabetes should get. They are available to download at www.diabetes.org.uk/15-essentials
For support giving up smoking, call Smokefree, an NHS stop smoking service, on 0800 169 0 169; call QUIT, the charity aiming for a smoke-free UK, on 0800 00 22 00; or talk to your GP.