Brief Tobacco Use Interventions for Health Care Providers
A Message for Health Care Providers from
Dr. Lawrence Sands
The use of tobacco products is one of the leading risk factors for various chronic diseases and death in Clark County and the U.S. As a health care provider, you have an opportunity to make a significant contribution to reducing tobacco use among Southern Nevada residents. We invite you and your staff to incorporate the use of brief intervention strategies when caring for patients who use tobacco products.
Tobacco use is responsible for approximately 440,000 deaths annually in the U.S., resulting in more than 5.6 million years of potential life lost (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2004). According to the CDC, tobacco use in Nevada results in approximately $565 million in health care costs annually.
The health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial including decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, lung and other cancers, and chronic lung disease. Despite the enormous health consequences of smoking, and the benefits of quitting, 22 percent of adults in Nevada continue to smoke (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2006).
Unfortunately, only about half of smokers seen by a physician report receiving advice or counseling to quit, and even fewer -- 2 to 15 percent -- are offered any form of assistance, including provision of specific counseling on how to stop, referral to treatment programs or prescription for smoking cessation medications (Goldstein et al, 2006).
You are in a unique position to identify tobacco users and to provide effective intervention. There is strong evidence from many clinical trials that brief smoking cessation counseling delivered by physicians, dentists and other clinicians increases smoking cessation rates among their adult patients. We recommend health care providers routinely and consistently deliver a brief three-step intervention consisting of “the three A’s:”
- Ask about tobacco use at every visit;
- Advise all tobacco users to stop; and
- Assist the patient by offering medications to aid in quitting and/or referrals to community programs such as the Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline at 1-800 QUIT NOW.
In an effort to increase the utilization of brief intervention strategies by clinicians, we have developed various education materials for professionals and their patients that are available to you free of charge. Visit the Educational Materials webpage to view the products available and place an order.
Because smokers frequently state that a health care provider’s advice is a strong motivator for making a quit attempt and remaining abstinent, the impact you can have on a patient's smoking habit cannot be overstated. Please help us to reduce the use of tobacco in Nevada, so that together we can protect and improve the health of your patients and their families, by ordering the free materials and incorporating brief intervention strategies into your practice.