1 Billion Opportunities for Pharmacists to Promote Tobacco Cessation

New worldwide estimates point to 1 billion current tobacco users, translating to 22.5% of the world's population.

New worldwide estimates point to 1 billion current tobacco users, translating to 22.5% of the world’s population.

Pharmacists can promote smoking cessation among this population through their medication expertise on prescription anti-smoking treatments. They can also recommend OTC products, provide motivation to quit, and follow up on patients’ progress.

In addition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosts a website devoted to resources for pharmacists on helping patients quit. The website includes printable intervention cards, videos showing how to conduct a patient intervention, and frequently asked questions.

A new analysis published in Addiction found 11% of deaths among men and 6% of deaths among women are due to tobacco. It also found 240 million individuals, or about 5% of the world’s adult population, has an alcohol use disorder.

Both tobacco use and alcoholism are more common among men, as 32% of men compared with 7% of women use tobacco, while 7.8% of men versus 1.5% of women have an alcohol-related disorder. The study estimated 257 disability-adjusted years of life are lost per 100,000 individuals.

Cannabis is the most common “unsanctioned psychoactive” used worldwide, with 3.5% of the population using the drug. In addition, 15 million individuals, or 0.3% of the world’s population, inject drugs.

“The most striking thing to emerge is how much more damage is done to society by legal drugs than illegal ones,” said study author, professor, and Addiction Editor-in-Chief Robert West in a press release. “It is a stark reminder of how the need to create shareholder value can work against global health and wellbeing.”

The analysis used data from the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and publications on addictive behaviors.

Analyzing data from the Alberta Gambling Research Institute, the researchers also discovered gambling affected 1.5% of the population in countries where gambling rates could be assessed.

The researchers called for a more systematic way of collecting data on addictive behavior in order to gain a clearer picture on global smoking and alcohol abuse estimates.

“There is an urgent need to review the quality of data on which global estimates are made and coordinate efforts to arrive at a more consistent approach,” the researchers concluded.