The importance of practitioner smoking status: a survey of NHS Stop Smoking Service practitioners
Objective To investigate the smoking status of stop smoking practitioners, the impact of this on their practice, and clients' quit rates. Methods Smoking cessation practitioners in the UK NHS Stop Smoking Service were asked about their smoking status, client quit rates and practitioner-client interaction, using an online survey. Associations between responses were investigated using logistic regression. Results 51% of the sample (N = 484) were ex-smokers. Most practitioners had been questioned about their smoking status by clients, with more never than ex-smokers claiming that this reduced their confidence when advising. Never smokers more frequently reported that clients questioned their ability as a practitioner, but no significant difference in quit rates was reported between never and ex-smokers. Conclusion Although evidence suggests smokers believe many practitioners are never smokers, this survey found that this is not true. Research investigating how many smokers might not be seeking support to quit because of this could be beneficial. Practice implications Raising awareness of the similarity of quit rates achieved by never and former smoker practitioners, and the experience practitioners draw upon when offering advice, might encourage greater use of the NHS SSS. It could also be beneficial to improve training in never smokers to address confidence issues.