CDC to doctors: Help your patients quit smoking!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical groups are urging doctors to help their patients quit smoking.
(Alexander Klein / AFP-Getty Images)

A new anti-tobacco campaign is urging smokers to turn to their physicians for help in quitting.

The campaign – “Talk With Your Doctor” – also encourages clinicians to ask patients whether they smoke and to offer them assistance giving up cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with several national physicians’ organizations, unveiled the initiative Wednesday.


Though 70% of smokers see doctors regularly, most try to quit smoking without professional help, said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, himself a physician.

A doctor’s advice and assistance more than doubles the odds that a smoker will quit, Frieden said. Doctors can offer counseling, resources, prescription medication and nicotine replacement options.

“Every doctor should do everything possible to help their patients quit,” Frieden said. Unfortunately, he said, “it is still too often not part of the routine doctor visit.”

The initiative features national television and online advertisements that include tips from former smokers, each one ending with the statement: “You can quit. Talk with your doctor for help.” The ads will run from May 27 through June 2.

Doctors, who often underestimate the number of their patients who smoke, can get tips on the CDC website on how best to help patients. They can also attend training on tobacco interventions.

Doctors can be a guide and partner for patients who are ready to quit, but they have to understand that giving up smoking can be a process, said Dr. Jeffrey Cain, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“The door is open,” he said. “America’s family physicians are ready, willing, trained and able to help you quit smoking.”

Surgeon Gen. Regina Benjamin said the U.S. had reduced tobacco use by half since 1964, but there was still a long way to go. About 1,200 people die each day from smoking, and one-fifth of the adult population continues to smoke, she said. Benjamin said part of the reason doctors can help is because their patients trust them.

Smokers can read the stories of successful quitters, learn about smoking-related health conditions and more on the CDC website.


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