A prescription-only pill to help people quit smoking has received draft approval for use on the NHS.Varenicline (Champix) is the first non-nicotine drug developed specifically to help smokers give up, and was licensed in the UK in 2006.
So is it a good idea to make this free on the NHS? If the company’s claims are true and it does help to give up smoking it will certainly help some people. As a practitioner I have helped many people in the last 12 years and one thing is for sure. There is a big difference in terms of results between those who take responsibility for their health and those who do not.
The people who take responsibility tend to value their health more. Value these days is often tied to cost. Therefore, if something is free, people tend not to respect it as much. For instance many years ago before I had a 24 hour cancellation policy I had a 50% cancellation rate. As soon as I introduced a cancellation policy, my cancellation rate fell to about 2% overnight.
Therefore, my view is that it should be paid for by people as it is likely to increase the chances of success.
I really hope this drug helps people to give up smoking, but I also believe that other factors require addressing. For instance what are the triggers to smoking, e.g. drinking alcohol, stress etc? Some women want to give up, but are fearful of putting on weight. Therefore, these people may need to learn to eat right for their metabolic type. Also, it hasn’t been illustrated what side effects it will produce and the study was only 12 weeks long. So what are the long term results of this drug?
We shall wait and see. With the smoking ban coming into action on 1st July it should help many to give up. Fingers crossed to all of you who want to give up.