Implementation of pharmacological interventions to help quit smoking. The progress of western Balkan countries according to the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2021
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Pediatric Department, Mother Teresa University Hospital, Tirana, Albania
Institute of Economic Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia
Pediatric Department, Primary Healthcare Centre No.3, Elbasan, Albania
Publication date: 2023-10-08
Corresponding author
Jorgjia Bucaj   

Pediatric Department, Mother Teresa University Hospital, Tirana, Albania
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement 2):A119
More than 60% of tobacco users report wanting to quit, and over 40% have made at least one attempt in the last 12 months. Cessation medications and professional support can double the chances of successfully quitting. Pharmacotherapy interventions include Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRTs), as well as medications such as Bupropion, Varenicline, and similar. According to studies, the quit rate increased from 6% for a single type of NRT to almost 15% for Varenicline. This study aims to assess the progress of Western Balkan (WB) countries in the pharmacotherapy use for tobacco cessation.

Material and Methods:
Data has been extracted from the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2021 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Despite the improvement in the legislation of these countries (due to their aspiration to join the EU), tobacco prevalence remains high.

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Serbia offer NRT and/or some cessation services (at least one of which is cost-covered). In none of these countries is a toll-free telephone quit line/help line with a live person available to discuss cessation with callers. In Serbia, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, NRTs are sold legally and can be easily purchased in pharmacies without Rx, while in Albania and Montenegro, NRT products are not sold legally. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, both Bupropion and Varenicline are sold legally in pharmacies with Rx, in Serbia only Bupropion is available, while in other countries none of these medications are available. Except for Montenegro, in all other countries, there are health clinics or other primary care facilities that offer support for smoking cessation.

Despite the efforts of the WB countries to provide smoking cessation therapies in the WB countries, their availability still remains a big issue. In some countries, NRTs or other medications are not available, while in those countries that can be accessed, they mostly are not reimbursed. We strongly recommend that pharmacotherapy should be available and fully/partially reimbursed by the national health authorities.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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