Using Today's Great American Smokeout to Help Patients Quit--November 2008


Too many Americans still smoke, and stress from current economic woes is making quitting even harder. Today’s Great American Smokeout marks a good time for pharmacists to step up those antismoking efforts.

Today marks the American Cancer Society’s 32nd “Great American Smokeout,” an opportune moment for pharmacists to remind patients of the importance of quitting smoking and the many medications and other options available to help them stop.

Although fewer US adults smoke, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that cigarette smoking continues to impose substantial health and financial costs on society. The CDC estimates that 19.8% (43.4 million) of US adults were current smokers in 2007, down from 20.8% in 2006. Based on the current rate of decline, however, it is unlikely that the national health objective of reducing adult smoking levels to 12% by 2010 will be achieved.

Also worrying is the impact the current economic turmoil is having on efforts to curb smoking. A recent Harris Interactive survey found that stress about the economy has prompted some smokers to smoke more and others to delay quitting or resume the habit.

Smoking causes at least 30% of all cancer deaths, including more than 80% of lung cancer deaths, and 80% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the CDC reports. The total economic burden of smoking—a combination of direct health care expenditures and productivity losses—is approximately $193 billion per year.

“The good news is we continue to see fewer people smoking,” said Janet Collins, PhD, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “The bad news is we need more people to quit. Smokers should be aware that there are more treatments and services available to help them quit now more than ever before.”

Pharmacists can play a crucial role in this effort, helping patients in the selection of smoking-cessation products, advising them on places they can turn to for support, and recognizing that to maximize success, pharmacotherapy must be combined with a concrete quit plan.

For more information on how you can help patients quit smoking, visit the “Prescription for Change” Web site. Resources for tobacco users who want help in quitting can be found at



For other articles in this issue, see:

The Power of Statins

New Yorkers Will Receive Rx Translations

Chronic Illness Care: US Falls Short

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