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Smokers with diabetes urged to self-refer themselves to the Quit Squad

Posted on the 31st August 2016

People with diabetes who smoke, vape or chew in Lancashire are being encouraged to refer themselves to specialist advisors from the Quit Squad to kick the habit for good and take control of their diabetes.

If you are a smoker and diagnosed with diabetes, giving up the habit is one of the most positive things you can do to both improve your health and reduce your risks of the long-term complications associated with the condition. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, lung disease, cancer and stroke. As diabetes also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, smokers with diabetes are strongly advised to quit. In fact, the risk of complications associated with tobacco use and diabetes in combination has been stated to be approximately 14 times higher than the risk of either smoking or diabetes alone.

The Quit Squad, funded by Lancashire County Council and provided by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, is also calling on people who smoke to recognise the harms that smoking causes to people around them and to make a Smoke Free Pledge to ensure their cars and homes are smoke free. The home is now the main source of exposure to second hand smoke for children.

Helen Hatcher from the Quit Squad said: “Everyone risks damaging their health through smoking a cigarette, pipe or cigar, but for people with diabetes the risk may be even greater. If you have diabetes, you already have an increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack, stroke or circulatory problems in the legs. Combine this with smoking, which can also double your risk of complications, and you make the chances of developing these diseases even higher.

“Giving up can be hard, but you don't have to carry the burden of quitting on your own. It has been shown that you are more likely to quit if you get the right support. Whichever method you choose, there are clear benefits from quitting and plenty of support to help you. The Quit Squad provides you with access to a variety of information and friendly support in a variety of settings including drop-in clinics or one to one sessions.”

Studies also show that there is an increased risk of kidney disease in patients with Type 1 diabetes who smoke. There is also evidence that both active and passive smoking increases the risks of chronic kidney disease in Type 2 diabetes patients. Smoking has also been found to increase the risk of albuminuria (the presence of protein in the urine, which indicates signs of kidney disease) in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. One study of people with Type 2 diabetes with kidney disease found that smokers’ kidney function declined more rapidly than that of non-smokers, despite drug treatment, suggesting that smoking cessation could slow the progression of kidney disease in people with diabetes who use blood pressure medication.

In addition to drop-in clinics (for which no appointments are required) and one-to-one sessions, the Quit Squad also offers group sessions in the community and operates in Central, North, East and West Lancashire. For further details, telephone 0800 3286297, visit www.quitsquad.nhs.uk, or follow the Quit Squad on Twitter @LancashireCare #QuitSquad. For further information on Smoke Free Pledges, telephone 01706 871740 or visit www.lancashiresmokefreehomes.co.uk.

People who wish to refer themselves to the Quit Squad can do so by telephoning the above number or completing the Quit Squad Self-Referral Form that can be found on the home page of the Quit Squad website.

CASE STUDY:

Geoff Macdonald is in his mid-60s, diabetic and registered blind. He had been smoking for nearly 50 years until he quit after coming into contact with the Quit Squad and learning about the different help available to stop smoking.

“I’d previously tried to stop smoking nearly 23 years ago by using nicotine chewing gum. It was okay at first and I managed to keep away for some six to seven weeks. Back then I thought to myself that I really wasn’t doing anything positive as I was still consuming nicotine and that maybe I should just start smoking once more. The gum also made me hiccup and feel sick.

“I really have to say I enjoy smoking and I would probably have kept on smoking if I hadn’t come into contact with Melanie from the Quit Squad. She is an amazing lady, friendly and professional an unusual mix.

“I’ve got a variety of medical problems with the main disability being that I am now registered blind. I’ve been like this for nearly 18 years, since I was diagnosed. I had a job, a career that I enjoyed very much. I had to give up almost instantly when diagnosed, there was no pre-warning. As a result, cigarettes and booze became my main outlets. Cigarettes in the region of 30 plus a day and about 3 litres or so of whisky per week.

“In March this year, I was drinking some whisky, as I did most evenings, when I began to wonder why I was drinking. I then poured it down the sink and said to myself, ‘I didn’t need to drink anymore.’ I have to take a lot of pills to help my body survive and cope with my genetic disorder as well as high blood pressure.

“About 2 to 3 months ago I went to my doctor and had a general check-up, blood test etc. He also decided to check my blood sugar levels and told me I also had diabetes. In between him organising a visit to a specialist nurse, my wife went on the internet to see what diabetes was all about. In my ignorance, I thought it was having injections every day and felt I simply couldn’t cope with that as well as taking all the current medicine. One step too much.

“However, I came to realise that I have Type 2 Diabetes and was advised that I needed to correct my diet and that smoking and drinking was problematic. I realised that smoking and the nicotine actually promoted diabetes! As I had stopped drinking and thought that being on a diet wouldn’t be too difficult, it was then I began thinking about my smoking of cigarettes and their effect. It was then that I was put in touch with Melanie from the Quit Squad.

“Before meeting her, I thought that if she advises me to use nicotine gum then I’m not really going to bother as I’ve already tried that. However, she told me about Champix, which is a tablet that reduces a person’s desire to smoke. I thought to myself, let me try that and see if it helps me with my diabetes. She was excellent at explaining the pros and cons of stopping smoking, the different systems, the support available from her and her colleagues. I was not made to feel bad for smoking, not talked down to etc. just very professional – treated as an equal, someone with a brain! She has excellent ‘people skills.’

“By the end of the first week, I came down from 30 to 40 cigarettes a day to 9 a day. I then thought to myself this is just a habit and an addiction, something to do while I am sitting wasting away the day. I also came to realise that I wasn’t getting the urge to smoke. After that I began smoking just one cigarette a day and even that wasn’t a full cigarette.

“After the first week we returned to see Melanie and she said the carbon monoxide in my blood had gone down noticeably. By the second week it was as if I hadn’t smoked. Amazing.

“I have now been smoke free for two months. I’m now weaning myself off the tablets and just having one tablet a day. My next appointment is with Melanie in a couple of weeks. At this stage she will decide if I continue for another few weeks with the tablets or not.

“I have not had any pangs for ‘nicotine’ or the need to smoke. It’s really struck me that the Champix has stopped the addiction. If I had known it was available, then I would have tried it years ago. I think that it’s been so easy to give up that I still haven’t realised that I have stopped. It has literally taken me four to five days to stop and now I have stopped I have no desire to smoke.  

“It’s been so quick and financially I am saving £100 plus a week! If people knew about what help is on offer, then I’m sure more people would give up.”