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A new report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and ukactive has suggested that stop smoking services should be located in gyms and health centres. The Going the Distance: Exercise professionals in the wider public health workforce report finds that, out of 800 gyms and leisure centres surveyed, 51% were ‘comfortable’ with smoking cessation services being offered at their premises.

Chief executive of RSPH, Shirley Cramer CBE , said, “In a climate of ongoing cuts to public health budgets, it has been acknowledged for some time that the public health challenges currently facing the nation are too great to be tackled by the core public health workforce alone. As such, developing, upskilling and empowering other workforces with the opportunity to improve public health has become a vital focus of RSPH’s work.

“As this report demonstrates, exercise professionals have a great opportunity to be an active part of this wider public health workforce, and there is appetite from the public for this to happen. Our recommendations set out a blueprint for making this ambition a reality, in a way that is effective and evidence-based.”

So, how would this suggestion be received by those who attend the gym? One gym-goer who currently smokes told FitPro, “I love the idea. The majority of smokers actually want to give up but either don’t have the resource or have tried too many times as there is limited support. The NHS pushes NRT or more drastic options such as Champix. As a gym goer myself, you often worry about the effects of smoking while at the gym, so it would be good to gym professionals to get behind this new measure.”

FitPro also spoke to Vicky Salt, senior policy and campaigns officer at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). She said, “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, early death but more than seven million people in the UK continue to smoke. Locating smoking cessation services within gyms and leisure centres could improve access to these important services.”

She continued, “It’s important that such approaches are tried and tested as this is a novel environment for services to be located in, away from more traditional healthcare settings. Smokers are four times more likely to quit with the support of a specialist service, so anything which can increase smokers’ access to this type of support would be welcomed.”

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