Aussies trialling Kiwi anti-smoking scheme Thursday, 16 October 2014

Aussies are trialling a Kiwi scheme of asking every patient they see whether they smoke or not in an effort to help smokers give up the habit.

Seven sites in Victoria in December began trialling the Kiwi scheme where it is compulsory to ask, record and report the smoking status of every patient admitted to hospital.

Anaesthetist David Bramley says by asking at this stage, medics can offer advice and support to stop smoking from the moment they see a patient.

"Anaesthetists care for patients before, during and after surgery. Helping them stop smoking is one of the many things we can do to improve both surgical and general health outcomes," Dr Bramley said.

"This is something health care workers in Australia are keen to do as well, but it isn't possible unless we ask the direct question of whether a patient is a smoker or not."

Dr Bramley says patients often make multiple visits to hospital, which gives medical professionals a perfect opportunity to educate patients and support them to stop smoking.

"People are very vulnerable at the time of surgery and are more likely to make decisions that will help their recovery."

While Australia looks at this plan, the New Zealand Parliament's health committee has given the green light to introduce Australia's scheme of plain packaging for cigarettes, though legislation won't be introduced until a legal challenge in Australia is settled.

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