Objective: To develop evidence-based clinical guidelines on smoking cessation, for use throughout the British military.
Method: A ten-member, multiprofessional smoking cessation working group met five times between October 2000 and July 2001 to develop targeted smoking cessation guidelines for use by military health professionals in the clinical setting. The guidelines were based on the best available scientific evidence at that time, mainly systematic review of controlled trials, and individual randomised trials.
Results: The agreed military guidelines on smoking cessation were promulgated in July 2001. Three tiers of support were defined. Military health professionals have a key role as nonsmoking models and advocates, and should be trained to use ‘brief intervention’ at every clinical encounter with a military smoker. ‘Intermediate support’ (defined as a specialist service delivered by military health professionals who have undergone specific training and continuation training) is to be available at local level. The most heavily addicted military smokers will require referral to civilian smoking cessation clinics. Effective technologies for use at any one of the three levels of care are: nicotine skin patches, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges and bupropion.
Conclusions: These are the first ever clinical guidelines for military use which meet accepted modern quality criteria. Informal monitoring of the uptake of these guidelines between July 2001 to December 2001 suggests that they have been well received by military health professionals. An audit of their impact on smoking patterns within the UK Armed Forces will commence in 2002. The guidelines will be updated 5-yearly, or sooner.
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