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Very Brief Advice for Tobacco Dependency

Expert opinion

Read time: 15 mins
Does Very Brief Advice actually work? Find out from experts Noel Baxter and Darush Attar-Zadeh how simple and effective Very Brief Advice is in routine clinical practice as they answer our questions using their personal experience from a GP and community pharmacy perspective.

Q. Why is Very Brief Advice different?

A. As GPs we are well trained in how to get the best out of a consultation for the person seeing us. We use various behavioural change techniques such as goal setting, helping people to measure positive change and eliciting and building motivation for better health outcomes.

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Q. Why is VBA different?

A. VBA is different to the advice many pharmacists are used to providing; it purposely doesn’t explore how many cigarettes/roll-ups a person smokes, nicotine dependency, past quit attempts or even motivation to go ‘Smokefree’ as health care teams couldn’t possibly do that with all smokers that walk into a pharmacy.

The hope is that pharmacy teams will offer VBA at every possible opportunity.

When a person brings in a prescription for long term condition e.g. asthma, or if a person is requesting over the counter treatments e.g. cough mixture, cold sore treatments, herbal treatments for insomnia or low mood. It’s the perfect opportunity to naturally ASK, ADVISE and ACT in 30 seconds.

The ‘ADVISE’ part in VBA is structured in a way to positively offer a person support and treatment that’s locally available e.g. face to face, telephone, web based or app, alongside treatments.

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Developed by EPG Health for Medthority. This content has been developed in collaboration with the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG).


EPG Health received educational funding from the sponsor, Pfizer, in order to help provide its healthcare professional members with access to the highest quality medical and scientific information, education and associated relevant content. Pfizer has had no editorial input into the content.