Encouraging focus on smoking cessation during a global pandemic

Oct 23, 2020
Covid smoking cessation

The Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in Great Britain have propelled one million people to become smoke free already. According to the CDC, most adults want to become non-smokers, and additional efforts with this year’s Stoptober campaign means a renewed effort via Public Health England and local authorities to assist populations to make and sustain a quit attempt.

Although tobacco control and smoking cessation have been on the public health agenda for some time, the Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly propelled the topic into the limelight once more: smoking has been shown to be associated with severity of disease and a risk factor for death in those with COVID-19. It has been a challenging time, and the public’s mental health has taken a toll.

The trajectory of the pandemic does not make us optimistic, either. If your local authority is already under a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ tier in local lockdown, or indeed if we were to be placed under a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, face to face smoking cessation services would not be safe to resume any time soon.  

What this means for your local authority

Despite the limelight being back on smoking cessation, the Coronavirus pandemic has also meant that the focus of public health has shifted from preventative to reactive, but here at Quit Genius we have been working towards health promotion goals for years. We know that the most effective public health approaches are those that are preventative. According to the CDC, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Prevention of chronic diseases caused by smoking: lung cancer, heart attacks and disease (the leading cause of lost years in life in the Western world), strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, yields a greater return on investment than curing subsequent diseases after they have started. This is one of the fundamentals of population health, and this approach can bring large cost savings to the NHS. Honing in on direct costs relating to smoking itself, supporting users to quit with Quit Genius has shown in a pilot with Greenwich Health projected savings of £386,000 - a 45% decrease in cost per quitter - to the local authority.

There is a balance between providing health services for the public, while fulfilling your duty of care to protect the health and safety of your employees. In instances where essential services are face to face, these must continue. But in instances where these can be digitised, they should be. And the public, including both younger and older generations, are receptive. Research tells us that 75% of users are now interested in telehealth, compared to 11% in 2019.

How Quit Genius will support your local population to quit smoking with the support of virtually prescribed Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Quit Genius will increase users’ chances of quitting tobacco products and electronic cigarettes successfully, and significantly more so than typical interventions such as brief advice, helplines, and factsheet support. With a package built by health professionals that is designed to be proactive, users will receive support from a human Quit Coach delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, an anonymous community supporting milestone events like the quit date, identifying of risk and trigger factors for potential relapse, virtual prescribing of NRTs to manage withdrawal symptoms and side effects (including nicotine patches, lozenges, and nasal sprays), and a connected breath sensor to gather biochemical results (carbon monoxide). Our coaches are NCSCT qualified and have years of experience with helping smokers to quit. They will be able to provide tailored recommendations for NRT usage, alongside other medications, such as Champix (varenicline) or bupropion, as well as help people to transition off e-cigarettes or other inhalator usage. Quit Genius is the solution you have been looking for to help your population become smoke free, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Quit Genius will help you to meet NICE guidelines

By investing in Quit Genius for the health needs of your local authority, you will be acting in accordance with NICE guidelines, specifically with recommendations for commissioning digital and mobile health interventions. You will be investing in a digital health intervention which uses evidence based change techniques, allowing quitters to remain in control of their own goals to quit cigarette smoking. You will be investing in a platform that is scalable (sub points 1.1), in turn reducing inequalities in access to stop smoking service healthcare. In line with NICE guidelines, we recommend that you invest in Quit Genius to supplement your existing service (point 1.2.2), and in doing so, not increase the health risks to your staff while it is unsafe to operate face to face, while also not compromising on the health goals of your local population.

In accordance with Tier 3b evidence for effectiveness standards, Quit Genius meets the best practice standard. Quit Genius is the only digital programme to be validated by six peer-reviewed research studies and a randomised controlled study (RCT) comparing Quit Genius to current standard care and evidencing a 52% CO-verified quit rate at four weeks.

Further, in line with NCSCT’s Toolkit for Commissioners, we list here the ways in which you could develop evidence based commissioning intentions with Quit Genius:

  • Deciding priorities: Quit Genius will allow for smoking cessation services to continue effectively in your local authority, despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Impact: Quit Genius will ensure that your population can immediately access smoking cessation services, any time of day to best suit them, reducing inequalities in access to stop smoking services. Impact will be measurable.
  • Effectiveness: Quit Genius is more effective than telephone coaching support (52% CO-verified quit rate at four weeks compared to 15% with telephone coaching).
  • Changeability: Quit Genius will allow your local population to make effective biochemically verified behavioural changes with behavioural support from a human Quit Coach and virtually prescribed NRTs. We increase access to services for pregnant women and under represented communities.
  • Acceptability: Quit Genius will be welcomed by both your local population and by your staff to supplement their efforts while it remains unsafe to continue with face to face smoking cessation services.

Speak to us today

Get in touch to find out how, in the face of huge costs associated with the pandemic and shrinking budgets for healthcare promotion, Quit Genius offers you a low cost, scalable solution that takes care of the population’s smoking cessation needs, in one robust package.

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