Pharmacists’ Perceptions of Participation in a Community Pharmacy-Based Nicotine Replacement Therapy Distribution Program
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The community pharmacy has been proposed as an ideal location for providing smoking cessation therapy to large numbers of patients. Studies of public health initiatives providing free nicotine replacement products through telephone quitlines have found increased call volumes and cessation rates. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a program where nicotine replacement therapy starter packs were provided to patients through community pharmacies at no cost. An online survey was developed to assess community pharmacists’ participation in the program, perceptions of the initiative as a whole, and perceptions of smoking cessation counseling activities. Eighty-three pharmacists working at participating pharmacies completed the survey (65% response rate). Ninety-nine percent of pharmacists provided smoking cessation counseling during the study period; the median (IQR) number of patients counseled over the initial 3.5-months of the NRT distribution program was 50 (24–100), and the median number of minutes per counseling session was five (3–7). Most (89%) agreed smoking cessation counseling was accommodated into the pharmacy work-flow. A majority (85%) agreed the community pharmacy is an ideal location for distributing free NRT products and that the program should be replicated in other pharmacies (78%). Participating pharmacists viewed the program positively and perceived it to be effective in helping patients quit smoking. In conclusion, the community pharmacy is a viable location for implementation of community-based public health initiatives related to smoking cessation.