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American Academy of Family Physicians Endorses Updated Guideline on Tobacco Use and Dependence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 08, 2008
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5222
Tobacco use results in 440,000 deaths in the United States each year, making it the most preventable cause of death.
Seventy percent of the 46 million current smokers in the United States would like to quit. Evidence shows that quit rates can be more than twice as successful when tobacco users receive advice from a health care professional. As such, the updated guideline calls for clinicians to offer effective tobacco-use screenings, dependence counseling and treatments to their patients. They also call on health systems, insurers, and purchasers to make such services available to their clients.
The guideline is congruent with the efforts of family physicians, who are on the frontline, helping tobacco users quit through a variety of interventions.
The new guideline identifies Ask and Act, the AAFP’s tobacco cessation program, as a clinical intervention framework that can be effective. Ask and Act encourages family physicians to “ask” about the tobacco use habits of all of their patients and then to “act” on that information to help them quit. The program provides family physicians with a variety of resources to help their patients quit, from materials promoting toll-free tobacco-cessation quitlines to prescribing guidelines for tobacco-cessation medications.
“Family doctors can be a great asset to their patients by offering counseling and pharmacologic treatments as they quit tobacco,” said Dr. Thomas Weida, speaker of the AAFP board of directors and member of the AAFP Tobacco Cessation Advisory Committee. “Research shows that patients are more satisfied with their health care if their doctors discuss smoking cessation, even if they are not yet ready to quit.”
The updated U.S. Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline also recognizes tobacco dependence as a chronic disease, which often requires repeated intervention and multiple attempts to quit. An ongoing relationship with a family physician provides the monitoring and support that helps result in long-term abstinence from tobacco products.
Strong evidence is presented in the Guideline indicating that counseling increases abstinence among adolescent smokers, which reaffirms Tar Wars, the AAFP’s community-based, tobacco-free educational program for fourth- and fifth-grade students. The program was founded in 1988 and reaches approximately 500,000 students annually.
“Given how difficult it is to quit tobacco successfully, it is far more preferable to prevent its use in the first place,” Weida said. “That’s why it is so important to have proven educational programs like Tar Wars, which has touched the lives of more than 8 million children during its 20-year history.”
Download the updated U.S. Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline (276-page PDF; About PDFs), which the AFFP has endorsed and accepted as its policy.
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.
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