The new year tobacco tax rise – helping patients to quit

Fiona Sharkie – Executive Director, Quit Victoria

Published 25 November 2013

Fiona Sharkie – Obesity Policy Coalition

With New Year’s and a tobacco tax rise looming, it’s likely many smokers will soon be approaching their GPs to talk about quitting smoking.

Research has shown GPs have an important role to play in encouraging more quit attempts and increasing success rates.

So how can you help your patients kick the habit for good?

One of the best ways to increase your patients’ chances of success is to ensure any prescription for nicotine replacement therapies or stop-smoking medications also includes a referral to the Quitline.

Studies have shown smokers are twice as likely to quit successfully if they use nicotine replacement therapies or stop-smoking medications, but their chances increases even more if combined with professional counselling such as that offered by the Quitline.

And now that nicotine patches and stop-smoking medications are available at a subsidised rate on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the price of cigarettes will rise by 12.5% each year for the next four years, there is even more motivation for smokers to quit.

A 12 week supply of nicotine patches is now available by prescription once per year (one original script with two repeats) at the subsidised rate.

They will cost $35.40, or $5.80 for concession card holders, for a four week supply. This is only $106 for the full 12 weeks or $17 for concession card holders.

We know that time is a limited commodity in general practice.

The Quitline can help you provide high quality cessation assistance while you make the most of your time with the patient.

Quitting smoking successfully involves kicking both the physical addiction and the mental dependence on cigarettes and Quitline counsellors can help your patients come up with strategies to cope with their smoking triggers.

The Quitline also have specialised support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island smokers and pregnant smokers.

You can refer your patients using our Quitline online referral form here.

Spending just a few minutes talking to your patients about their smoking could lead to a behavioural change which will save their life.

For more information on supporting your patients to quit, you can access The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners smoking cessation guidelines for health professionals here.