New data from the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control suggests that doctors and providers play a critical role in helping patients with nicotine addiction as they attempt to quit.
As the state’s average smoking rates reach historic lows, rates remain high among certain population groups and in specific communities. While New York State Tobacco Control Partners — including The Heart Network’s Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country (HSTFNC) Program — have contributed substantially to the drop in tobacco use rates through policy-driven, cost effective and evidence-based approaches, more work needs to be done to address disparities.
“We’re making incremental progress,” said Joey Boswell, HSTFNC coordinator for The Heart Network. “Looking ahead, we want to stress the crucial role that healthcare providers play in reducing tobacco use and nicotine addiction.”
Clinical Practice Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence recommend that providers use the Ask, Advise, Assist approach: ask patients if they smoke, advise them to quit, and assist in quit attempts through counseling and medications. The Bureau of Tobacco Control’s new report, which culls data from 2019’s Adult Tobacco Survey, estimated that out of 75.5% of current smokers who saw a healthcare provider over a 12-month span, 90% were asked if they smoke. More than three-quarters of those respondents reported that their prodiver advised them to quit, and 55.5% were offered assistance — a 23.3% increase between 2014 and 2019.
“Receiving assistance from a provider doubles a person’s odds of quitting successfully,” Boswell said. “Our aim is to make sure these providers have as many tools at their disposal as possible.”
New York State’s Talk to Your Patients program offers doctors, nurses, mental health counselors and family health practitioners with the latest techniques, medications and resources to help patients quit. The Heart Network and its tobacco cessation partners across the state are appealing directly to healthcare providers to use the tools offered by the Talk to Your Patients campaign.
“We want providers to know that when they offer tangible support in the form of counseling and medication, they are quite literally saving lives,” Boswell said. “Ongoing treatment dramatically increases long-term abstinence rates. And many patients don’t realize that Medicaid and other insurance programs cover these treatments — providers are often in the best position to provide this information.”
To learn more about Talk to Your Patients, visit heartnetwork.org/ttyp. For more information on The Heart Network’s Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country program, contact Joey Boswell at (518) 891-5855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.