Student nurses who smoke should be encouraged to quite as part of their training, say researchers.
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They found nursing students were twice as likely to smoke as the general public and, as a result, say smoking cessation should be incorporated into nurse training courses.
The Italian survey of 800 student nurses, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, found 44 per cent were current smokers. A further 12 per cent said they were former smokers.
Additionally the results suggested 37 per cent smoked up to five cigarettes a day and 4 per cent smoked more than 20.
Study author Anna Maria Tortorano, a professor at Milan University’s department of public health, said: “Smoking prevention is an important issue and healthcare professionals, especially physicians and nurses, can play a major role in helping people to understand the consequences that smoking can have on their health and their lives.
She added: “However when health professionals smoke it makes it more difficult for them to encourage patients to stop.
“We believe that smoking cessation programmes should be incorporated into nursing studies as high levels of smoking among healthcare professionals undermine the credibility of non-smoking campaigns aimed at the general public,” said professor Tortorana.