Tobacco smoking as a chronic disease: notes on prevention and treatment.
Tobacco use represents a rare confluence of interesting circumstances. Elements of inheritable risk combine with powerful neuropharmacology and a ubiquitous environmental exposure and result in an epidemic that claims over 430,000 lives and costs us over $100 billion annually. It is the single most important remediable public health problem in the United States. Most smokers want to quit smoking and a simple advice from a physician can increase the likelihood of doing so. Moreover, there are a number of pharmacologic and behavioral therapies that are proven to be effective in smoking cessation. Yet, there is an apparent reluctance among physicians to address smoking cessation, perhaps due to a sense of frustration or low self-efficacy. Physicians play an important role in smoking cessation, and intensive interventions are necessary to improve their participation and efficacy. Teaching practical smoking cessation techniques within medical school curricula, with an opportunity for standardized practice and self-evaluation, may be an effective strategy to improve physician practice in this area. Since most smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 18, and youth smoking is on the rise, targeted interventions aimed at preventing initiation and encouraging cessation of smoking among youth are needed. For all tobacco users, a better understanding of the pharmacology and physiology of nicotine addiction may translate into targeted and individualized treatment and prevention strategies, which may improve success rates dramatically. To better control this epidemic, and to meet the nation's public health goals for the year 2010 , local tobacco control interventions need to be multifaceted and well integrated into regional and national efforts . Because of the physician's unique societal role with respect to tobacco, doctors may indeed find it possible to impact public opinion and significantly reduce the toll of tobacco by acting at the public health and public policy levels . Those interested in engaging in the public health debate can do more than relay facts about tobacco and health. Involvement in tobacco-control issues provides the opportunity to impact the environmental influences promoting smoking among patients, and is likely to be synergistic with efforts to help smokers quit within the office. Physicians who take steps to engage in local public health initiatives are likely to magnify the effects of their efforts at the bedside [148, 149].
Batra, V; Patkar, AA; Weibel, S; Leone, FT
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