15/02/09 NHS Smokefree Live Chat

The fun just never stops where tobacco control is involved.  The NHS has now introduced a live web chat to encourage people to stop smoking. Myself and some others from F2C decided to log on and have a chat to see what it is all about.  A few things transpire:

  • They do not want people to cut down smoking, they want quitters only
  • They do not like answering questions and kept cutting me off when I asked some
  • They are only interested in people quitting because it is quantifiable, but do not say how they determine what a success is or how they know if someone quit
  • They do not offer advice, but refer us to local smoking stop smoking services – couldn’t we do that anyway?
  • Tax-payers are paying for this abomination – during this time of economic crisis, money is being wasted on this.

The following are my four conversations with these jokers. The first three got cut off, the fourth one I decided to play along and unsurprisingly the conversation lasted until the end.

ATTEMPT ONE

You are now connected
Fabia:
Hi, you are through to Fabia, I am an NHS stop smoking advisor, how can I help you?
rich:
hi, i would like to cut down how much i smoke
Fabia:
Okay thats good are you looking atgiving up all together in future?
rich:
no
Fabia:
Okay hope you don’t mind if i ask why you choose to cut down rather that stop smoking?
rich:
i just want to cut down to save a bit of money, but i enjoy smoking and don’t want to quit
Fabia:
Research has proved though that cutting down would only lead to going back up as your body is used to its regular doze of nicotine so if you try to cut down it might be difficult because your body knows what it is used to and since you smoke cigarette will always be available for you to go right back to what you were smoking before.
rich:
i understand you’re trying to promote these products, but i’m not going to use them and am not here to be told how to live
rich:
research funded by the pharmaceutical industry will of course ‘prove’ cutting down leads to going back up. In reality, many smokers cut down or quit all by themselves, just as other people drink less coffee
Fabia:
Im not promoting any products Rich as i have not said anything about any products i am only assisting you in your quit attempt the best way i can.
rich:
im not trying to quit
Fabia:
Okay well we help people to quit here but if you want to cut down you can just think of ways to distract yourself and keep busy.
rich:
you only help people to quit? not cut down?
Fabia:
We strongly suggest giving up all together as opposed to cutting down.
rich:
that’s not what i asked
Fabia:
Does my answer not answer your question?
rich:
no. I asked do you only help people to quit rather than cut down. You said you suggest giving up, evading whether or not you help people cut down
Fabia:
I’m sorry i meant to say we do not help people to cut down.
rich:
why not?

ATTEMPT TWO

John:
Hi, you are through to John, I am an NHS stop smoking advisor, how can I help you?
rich:
hi, i would like to know why you don’t help people to cut down, only to quit
John:
It’s entirely up to people if they want to cut down or quit.
rich:
i know that, but that’s not what i asked at all
rich:
i want to know why if a smoker comes here about cutting down they get no help
John:
In order to show a justifiable and quantifiable tax spend focus is place on quit rather than cutting down.
rich:
and what does that mean in english?
rich:
that because tax payers are funding this sham smokers who only want to cut back are ignored? Is their health of no concern?
John:
Well if you are mored than welcome to use quit measures to cut down if you wish.
rich:
let’s start again. I am here to cut down. Can you help with that?
John:
I am more than willing to provide you with the same advice I would provide those looking to quit.
rich:
you said that qutting is quantifiable. I am curious, how do you measure success?
John:
Tax spend weighed against successful quit.
rich:
no i mean what is a successful quit. I am assuming you don’t find people the day before they die and ask if they ever started smoking again, so what do you do?

ATTEMPT THREE:

Paula:
Hi, you are through to Paula, I am an NHS stop smoking advisor, how can I help you?
rich:
Hi
rich:
i want to know how you measure a successful quit
Paula:
Hi Rich we are not able to advise on that but here to offer help and support to insure a successful quit.
rich:
i know, i was talking to someone else and got disconnected before they can answer. I was told you only offer quitting help and not cutting down advice because quitting is quantifiable. How is it quantified?
rich:
If you tell me i will be more inclined to use the service, otherwise i won’t be able to trust the data
Paula:
When you cut down on the amount of cigarettes you are smoking you may smoke them more efficiently therefore no reduction in the risk to your health.

ATTEMPT FOUR

You are now connected
Duncan:
Hi, you are through to Duncan, I am an NHS stop smoking advisor, how can I help you?
rich:
hi
rich:
i would like to quit smoking
Duncan:
Ok we can help. tell me about your smoking habbit.
rich:
what would you like to know
Duncan:
What age are you ?
rich:
22
Duncan:
How long have you been smoking ?
rich:
about 9 years
Duncan:
And how many do you smoke per day and when you wake in the morning how quickly do you smoke
rich:
i dont know how many i smoke exactly, but i would say at least 40 as i smoke pretty much all day long. I have my first within 5 minutes of waking
Duncan:
Have you tried to stop before and if so what made you start again ?
rich:
no, never tried before
Duncan:
Have you ever heard of Nicotine Replacement Therapy ( NRT)
rich:
yes
rich:
but i hear that it only works 15% of the time
Duncan:
It works in more than 40% of the time and using your local stop smoking service ( LSSS) actually increases your chances of stopping
rich:
ok thats good. Should i try NRT or go cold turkey? If it works 40% of the time does that mean will power is more successful?
Duncan:
You would be much more successfull using NRT than cold turkey.
rich:
ok i think i will try that then. Will i need to talk to someone once i’ve quit to say i’ve been successful?
Duncan:
You dont need to it does help do you pay for prescriptions?
rich:
im not sure, i’ve not had a prescription in years. I’m a university student, do you know if that means i will have to pay?
Duncan:
It means you wouldnt more than likely but go to your LSSS you can get NRT on prescription from there.
rich:
ok. What about the e-cig?
Duncan:
That we dont have a lot of data on yet however it is prolonging the habbit it isnt designed to help you to stop.
rich:
ok. When you say NRT is successful 40% of the time, how long do those people stay quit?
Duncan:
It varies and the information can change on a daily basis depending of peoples choices.
rich:
is there a general minimum?
Duncan:
Not really as a lot will stay stopped for good while some can start again after 10 years or even 10 weeks it depends a lot on the persons desire to stay stopped.
rich:
ok
rich:
thanks
Duncan:
no problem Rich and good luck.
rich:
thanks

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