More NY Health Care Providers are Helping Smokers Quit

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 31, 2008) – A recent New York State Department of Health report found that nearly one-third more smokers are getting help from their health care providers to quit smoking – a 31 percent increase since 2004.

Tobacco addiction is the leading preventable cause of death in New York. Approximately 25,500 New Yorkers die each year from smoking.

"Helping patients overcome chronic tobacco dependence is one of the best interventions clinicians can provide to improve their patients' health," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Our goal is to have every clinician ensure that not one of their smoking patients leaves the office without tobacco dependence treatment."

New York's Adult Tobacco Survey for 2003-2007 reports that in 2007, about 90 percent of adults who had been to a health-care provider in the past 12 months report being asked whether they smoke. In 2007, 80 percent of smokers report being advised to quit by a health care provider in the past 12 months. Nearly half of all smokers who have been to a health care provider in the past 12 months report being prescribed or referred for effective tobacco treatments or given brief counseling. These figures are higher than the national average.

The Association of American Medical Colleges in 2007 found that nationally only 27 percent of doctors usually monitor their patients' progress in quitting smoking. DOH's Tobacco Control Program and its 19 statewide cessation centers started working with health care organizations and providers in 2004 to stress the importance of screening patients for tobacco use and providing assistance to quit. The survey results show that these efforts are paying off.

The state Health Department launched the "Don't Be Silent About Smoking" ad campaign earlier this year to reach health care providers. This cutting-edge campaign featuring images of doctors with their mouths stitched or taped shut dramatized how doctors can help their patients quit by discussing smoking. While most anti-smoking efforts target smokers, the "Don't Be Silent" campaign speaks directly to doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

"When clinicians take the time to talk to their patients about smoking and provide assistance with quitting, long-term success can be achieved," said Commissioner Daines. "This is a great opportunity for health care providers to save lives."

Last year, 55 percent of New York's 2.6 million smokers attempted to quit. Most smokers try to quit without effective treatment and, as a result, the majority go back to smoking. Health care provider interventions increase the possibility for success.

Direct assistance in quitting is available from the New York State Smokers' Quitline, which provides free counseling and nicotine-replacement therapy for those who qualify. The Quitline website is www.nysmokefree.com, or people can call the free Quitline number at 1-866-697-8487. For additional information, please visit the state Health Department website at www.nyhealth.gov.

Percentage of Adults Who Were Asked, Advised and Assisted Regarding Tobacco Use

Chart showing the numbers of adults that asked, advised or assisted with their tobacco use
Provider Action Adult Tobacco Survey
New York National
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2007
Asked 91.9% 87.0% 89.1% 87.7% 90.3% 85.8%
Advised 74.7% 69.9% 77.0% 76.6% 79.7% 58.7%
Assisted 37.4% 38.0% 43.8% 44.6% 49.9% 29.6%