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Dentists encouraged to help smokers quit with Stoptober

14 September 2015

Dentists encouraged to help smokers quit with Stoptober

Stoptober – Public Health England’s (PHE) 28 day mass quit smoking campaign - has launched as the most recent statistics reveal 2,790 new cases of oral cancer were diagnosed in England in 2013. On average an estimated 65% (70% in males and 55% in females) of oral cancer cases are linked to smoking tobacco.

PHE is urging dental professionals to engage in Stoptober by offering ‘Very Brief Advice’ (VBA) to smokers using a ‘30 second approach;’ a technique developed by The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT), and further referenced by PHE in their resources for dental professionals. When compared with no advice to smokers, recommending treatment or support via VBA has been shown to increase the odds of quitting by 68% and 217% respectively.

VBA includes three simple steps:

  1. ASK, establish and record smoking status
  2. ADVISE on the personal benefits of quitting in light of oral health findings
  3. ACT, offer help and signpost to Stoptober and local Stop Smoking Services

PHE has also developed a number of campaign resources such as leaflets and posters for professionals working within dental care; practitioners are encouraged to order and display these free resources to help generate further awareness of Stoptober. 

Research shows that by stopping smoking for 28 days, people are five times more likely to stop for good[4]. Now in it’s fourth year, the campaign is targeted at all smokers with a particular emphasis on routine and manual workers, who have high rates of smoking. Stoptober offers a variety of free tools including encouraging and supportive emails, text messages or the Stoptober mobile phone app - all of which have shown to increase the chances of staying smokefree.

This year, for the first time, quitters will receive personal, humorous support and encouragement from some of the country’s best known comedians - Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert, Al Murray and Shappi Khorsandi - who all inject a little of themselves into the help they provide.

Supporting the campaign, Dr Sandra White, Director of Dental Public Health for Public Health England, said:

“Smokers are seven to ten times more likely to suffer from oral cancer than individuals who have never smoked. Smoking can increase the chances of gum disease and tooth loss; it leads to stained teeth, reduced taste sensation and halitosis.

“Whilst dental professionals have a brief opportunity to engage with smokers about their plans for quitting, the “Very Brief Advice” approach is designed to be used in almost any consultation with a smoker or tobacco user. VBA is a simple and straight-forward way in which dental teams can support their patients to quit tobacco. We’d urge all dental practitioners to get involved in this year’s campaign to encourage even more people to quit for 28-days and beyond.’

Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer, NHS England, said;

“It is a sad reality that one in two of us will get a form of cancer at some point in our lives with the likelihood of contracting mouth cancer heightened by excess drinking and smoking. Stoptober is another great opportunity for dentists to reinforce prevention messages and encourage patients to take up Stoptober. The dental team can motivate their patients by highlighting all the oral health benefits of stopping smoking  - reducing risk of tooth loss, halitosis and gum disease - signposting to local stop smoking services and by providing that extra layer of support and encouragement to patients trying to give up.”

 Dental professionals can find further information regarding the ‘Very Brief Advice’ technique in PHE resources:

Stoptober campaign materials can be ordered at at:

Over a quarter of a million people across the country signed up to Stoptober last year with more than half making it to 28 days. If a patient is hoping to sign up they can search Stoptober online or visit to begin their 28- day smokefree journey. 

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