Smokeless tobacco cessation guidelines for health professionals in England

West, R.; McNeill, A.; Raw, M.
May 2004
British Dental Journal;5/22/2004, Vol. 196 Issue 10, p611
Academic Journal
Smokeless tobacco is used in the UK predominantly by members of the Indian, Pakistani and especially Bangladeshi communities. The most commonly used form is tobacco mixed with lime and additional psychoactive compounds, most notably areca nut. The resulting 'quid' is chewed or held in the mouth. Studies from Asia indicate that use of this kind of product is linked with an increased risk of oral cancers and possibly low birth-weight infants. There is little high quality research evaluating interventions to promote cessation of smokeless tobacco use, especially of the forms used in the UK. However, what evidence there is suggests that advice to stop coupled with behavioural support and counselling may increase long-term abstinence rates by some 5-10%. It seems appropriate therefore to recommend that dentists, GPs and other relevant health professionals should routinely assess and record smokeless tobacco use in patients belonging to relatively high prevalence groups, that they ensure that smokeless tobacco users know the potential health risks (as well as the health risks of smoking) and that they advise them to stop and keep a record of the outcome. Dental professionals should also examine the oral cavity of smokeless tobacco users for lesions when the opportunity arises. Patients expressing an interest in stopping should be referred to specialist smoking cessation services for behavioural support and specialists in areas of high smokeless tobacco use will need to ensure that they are sufficiently knowledgeable and their services sufficiently accessible to these users. There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of nicotine replacement therapy or bupropion to aid smokeless tobacco cessation. Research is needed in the UK to quantify the personal and population health risks from smokeless tobacco, the benefits of stopping, the effectiveness of interventions aimed at promoting cessation and patterns of use, knowledge and attitudes of users.


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