Health Care Providers

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Altarum advocates that all healthcare professionals contribute to the public’s health by making tobacco cessation a priority. Specifically, we propose that all patients be screened for tobacco as a standard practice and tobacco users be offered cessation treatment and follow-up support to help them quit and remain tobacco free. While this is currently a standard of care for some providers, it is not routine practice across the board in spite of broad agreement that tobacco cessation treatments are both effective and cost-effective. We believe tobacco cessation treatment is one of the most important actions medical professionals can take for their patients.

An MMWR study published in June 2012 tracked some three billion visits to physicians’ offices from 2005-2009 and found that:

  • Only 20.9% of adult patients who use tobacco received cessation counseling, and
  • Only 7.6% of patients who use tobacco received a tobacco cessation medication.

However, the report also notes that recent smoking cessation success is much higher for those persons who visited a physician in the past year than those who did not (7.2% vs. 3.9%). Thus, physician tobacco cessation interventions should be seen as highly effective, when implemented.