Blog | Monday, November 14, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Smokers want to quit, but need to be asked and helped

Researchers found that while the vast majority of smokers want to stop, the vast majority who wanted to got little support from their health care providers. Not that they'd approached their provider, either.

68.8% of current cigarette smokers said they would like to completely stop smoking, and 52.4% had tried to quit smoking in the past year. However, 68.3% of the smokers who tried to quit did so without using evidence-based cessation counseling or medications, and only 48.3% of those who had visited a health-care provider in the past year reported receiving advice to quit smoking.

Little overall change has been observed in these measures in the past decade. However, more adults over the age of 25 did try to stop in the same time period. Results appeared Nov. 11 at Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Researchers analyzed data from the 2001-2010 National Health Interview Surveys and found that 48.3% of patients who saw a health professional in the past year reported receiving advice to quit. Women and those over 65 were more likely to have received cessation advice. Hispanic smokers and those without a health plan were least likely to have received such advice.

Percentage of adult who made a quit attempt in the past year, by ageImage from MMWR. 60(44);1513-1519
Among smokers aged 45-64 years, a significant linear increase in quit attempts was observed from 2001 to 2010 (
P less than 0.05 for linear trend).

It's long been noted that advice from a health professional increases quit attempts and increases use of effective medications, which can nearly double to triple rates of successful cessation.

Among current smokers who tried to quit in the past year and former smokers who successfully quit in the past two years, counseling and/or cessation medications use was 31.7% (4.3% had used both).

Because brief cessation advice by health care providers works, clinicians should consistently and routinely identify tobacco users, advise them to quit, and help those engaged in a quit attempt, the authors wrote in MMWR.

Help lines such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW can be a referral source for health-care providers who might not have the time or staff to provide all of the steps in the recommended "5A" cessation counseling model: ask about tobacco use, advise to quit, assess willingness to make a quit attempt, assist in quit attempt, and arrange follow-up.