Phone support offers convenient and anonymous way to quit smoking in 2018

There are currently around 1.3 million Londoners who smoke tobacco, and with the widening range of options available, it has never been a better time to stop.

The Stop Smoking London helpline (0300 123 1044) has been set up to help people navigate through those options and find a way that suits them. Advisers work with smokers to create a quit plan, give tips on will power and make follow-up calls to offer motivation and support.

Fraser Serle, London’s smoking cessation programme manager, said: “People know that smoking is bad for their health. It’s the biggest cause of preventable death in England, so making the commitment to give up is a positive step, but then the next question is ‘how’ and ‘what will work best for me’ and this is where a lot of people get stuck. They don’t know what their GP can do to help, or what their local free-of-charge stop smoking service does, or what might be the best nicotine replacement therapy for them to cope with cravings.”

To help people in London get information and support around options, medicines and services available, the telephone helpline and website have been set up by the London Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) both called Stop Smoking London.

Specialist advisers work with smokers on a 1-2-1 basis to understand their habit and lifestyle, discuss appropriate support and medicines, and signpost them to services in their local area. For people who live in one of London’s 30 participating boroughs, the telephone adviser will work with them to set a quit date and devise a plan to support it, then provide follow-up calls to track progress and coaching to keep quitters motivated.

Fraser said: “We know that people lead busy lives and want a convenient option. Some people do not want clinic-based support from a specialist or attend timed support groups because of work and life commitments. For time-poor Londoners, telephone support fits well into people’s lifestyles. People who use our service tell us they like the anonymity of it. Some people feel ashamed about their habit and think they will be judged, so the option of speaking to someone and not seeing them helps callers open up and be more honest about their habit.”

In addition to recommending treatments and therapies, advisers talk through a range of strategies with quitters to help them think positively and keep on track.

Fraser added: “Setting a quit date, making a plan and selecting appropriate treatment are the first step. Our advisers will then help people keep to their quit date by talking through techniques to beat cravings. Simple things like how to keep your mouth and hands busy, or writing lists of benefits of quitting. Some people use physical props, like pictures of their children, to remind and motivate them.  Others will take themselves away from situations where they used to smoke or find a replacement activity, like walking or stretching. Our advisers have lots of tips like this to help people achieve their quit date.”

For people who want to stop smoking, several different treatments are available from shops, pharmacies and on prescription to help them beat their addiction and reduce withdrawal symptoms.  The most suitable treatment will depend on personal preference, age, whether women are pregnant or breastfeeding, and any existing medical conditions.