World No Smoking Day – Government action needed to help smokers quit

Over 35,000 GP hours could be saved with pharmacy-based treatment

30 May 2018: Ahead of World No Smoking Day (31 May 2018) the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is calling on the Minister for Health to make Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) available to medical card holders. According to the IPU, continued failure to do so is maintaining barriers to quitting, which goes contrary to government policy.

Caitiona O’Riordan, a member of the IPU Executive Committee and Community Pharmacist, said, “NRT is a very effective support to people who are trying to quit smoking and research has shown that it is far more effective than will power alone. Pharmacists have been safely providing smoking cessation services to private patients since 2014. However, this service is not available to medical card holders, creating an inequality that is unjustified.

“In 2016 almost 180,000 prescriptions were written by GPs for medical card holders for NRT. This equates to 35,780 hours of GP time being used to provide treatments which are available without prescription in pharmacies. Allowing pharmacies provide this service direct to medical card patients would free up time equivalent to that of 17 full time GPs.

“While the rate of smoking in Ireland has fallen we are still higher than many other countries around the world. It is clear we need to think differently about how we support people to quit smoking. The majority of smokers want to quit, however many do not know where to start or feel discouraged if they have had a lapse.”

By speaking with their pharmacist, it will help individuals to understand what method will work best for them, and provide them with impartial advice on supports, such as nicotine replacement therapy to help manage cravings.


For further information: Siobhán Kane, Press and Communications Manager, Ph. +353 (0)87 775 1510.