AMA Wire

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Week's News

CDC, physicians partner in campaign to get smokers to talk to their doctors

CDC, physicians partner in campaign to get smokers to talk to their doctors

Smokers across the country are seeing powerful reminders this week that a conversation with their physician can provide the assistance they need to quit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with five national medical associations, including the AMA, in the new "Talk With Your Doctor" campaign announced last week. The campaign kicks off with a series of television and online ads running May 27–June 2 that encourage smokers, "You can quit. Talk with your doctor for help."

The campaign is part of the CDC's highly successful "Tips From Former Smokers" initiative, which depicts some of the devastating results smoking causes for smokers and their families. In its first phase, the initiative spurred more than 200,000 additional calls to the national quit hotline.

"Smokers have told us that hard-hitting, emotionally powerful ads like these provide the motivation they need, and the response to the ads supports that," CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, said in a news release. "We believe ‘Talk With Your Doctor' will amplify and expand the great success of Tips and offer more encouragement for smokers to quit for good."

Nearly 70 percent of the nation's 44 million smokers want to quit, according to the CDC's National Health Interview Survey, but many need assistance making that happen.

"Physicians should talk to every patient who smokes about quitting, at every office visit," AMA Board of Trustees Member Patrice Harris, MD, said during a national press conference about the campaign last week. "Discussions between doctors and patients can help reduce smoking and improve the health of millions of Americans and their families. As physicians, we should start the conversation."

Dr. Harris also noted that tobacco use greatly contributes to the U.S. disease burden and pointed to smoking cessation as a necessary intervention to improve outcomes for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two particularly troubling and wide-spread health conditions the AMA is targeting through its Improving Health Outcomes initiative.

AMA resources also can aid physicians in helping their patients quit smoking. The AMA's Healthier Life Steps® program, for instance, provides tracking calendars and action plans to keep patients on track for achieving such healthy lifestyle goals as smoking cessation and physical activity.

An online continuing medical education (CME) newsletter from the AMA offers an issue on treating tobacco dependence. Physicians who complete the activity will learn how to determine a patient's level of dependence, assess his or her readiness to quit and identify evidence-based pharmacologic treatments.

For physicians treating special patient populations, such as those with a mental illness or substance use disorder, an online CME training module offers practical strategies to help address tobacco dependence.