AAFP Recruiting Practices for Smoking Cessation Pilot

'Office Champions' Program Aims to Ramp Up Anti-Tobacco Activities

June 22, 2010 05:20 pm News Staff

The AAFP is recruiting 50 family medicine practices for a pilot project that will train "office champions" to implement system changes that encourage the integration of tobacco cessation activities in daily office routines.

[Stock photo of generic pack of cigarettes]

The program will educate these office champions through an online training module, live teleconferences and a practice manual. The office champions will be required to submit an implementation plan to the AAFP and track and report results.

"I can say from experience that changing the system in which you practice can help improve care on a consistent basis," said Saria Carter Saccocio, M.D., of Rome, Ga., a member of the Academy's Tobacco Cessation Advisory Committee.

New Tobacco Provisions Take Effect

It has been one year since President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. During that time, the FDA has achieved numerous milestones included in the act, such as establishing the agency's Center for Tobacco Products and implementing new statutory authorities that increase scrutiny of tobacco product manufacturers.

The following provisions of the act took effect June 22(www.fda.gov):

  • FDA rules that limit the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to protect the health of children and adolescents become legally enforceable;
  • advertising or labeling of tobacco products with the descriptors "light," "mild" or "low-tar" or similar descriptors is prohibited without an FDA order; and
  • larger health warning labels for smokeless tobacco products are required to rotate on labels and advertising and be displayed on packaging.

The AAFP marked the June 22 anniversary by joining the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the AMA in voicing support for the regulations.

In a joint statement, the organizations urged the FDA to vigorously enforce regulations designed to reduce use of tobacco products by children and adolescents.

"The FDA's authority to regulate tobacco products represents an unprecedented opportunity to protect the American public, especially children, from the harm caused by these dangerous products," said AAFP President Lori Heim, M.D., of Vass, N.C., in the statement. "An effective strategy against tobacco use requires approaches that prevent people from using it in the first place and measures to assist in quitting.

"The FDA's new role in preventing the marketing and illegal sale of tobacco products to minors will bolster family physicians' efforts to educate our patients, both children and adults, about the dangers of these products and encourage them to lead healthy lifestyles."

Carter Saccocio, who is associate director of the Floyd Family Medicine Residency in Rome, said that implementing a similar tobacco cessation program improved her residency's quality of care by putting a bigger emphasis on the issue.

"We used to occasionally ask patients if they smoked, or we might have asked if we smelled smoke on the patient," she said. "Now it's just a part of our practice. We ask every patient, and it goes on the chart."

Office champions in the pilot project can be physicians, but they more likely will be practice administrators, nurses, physician assistants or other staff members.

"Having an opportunity to have your team involved makes a difference," Carter Saccocio said. "It's not just the physician. When your whole team buys in to the system, you're more likely to be successful."

The deadline for applications is Aug. 16. Additional information and applications are available online. Members with questions may contact AAFP tobacco control manager and project director Pamela Rodriguez by e-mail or by calling (800) 274-2237, Ext. 3135.

Practices chosen to participate will be announced in September, with implementation and evaluation scheduled to take place from October through May 2011. Practices that complete the program will be reimbursed for administrative costs associated with the project.

Participating practices also will receive a recognition kit that includes

  • a certificate that states, "This practice is recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians for excellence in tobacco cessation assistance;"
  • a news release to send to local newspapers;
  • a certificate for the office champion indicating he or she has completed tobacco cessation training by the Academy;
  • an article for patient newsletters;
  • electronic "Tobacco Treatment Excellence" logos to use on letterhead, business cards, advertisements, etc.;
  • tips on having a recognition ceremony for staff;
  • tips on publicizing the practice's office champion status; and
  • posters for the office.

Additionally, practices that complete the project will receive recognition

  • in an advertisement in American Family Physician,
  • in materials distributed at the 2010 AAFP Scientific Assembly and the 2010 National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students, and
  • on the AAFP website.

The project is supported by a $400,000 grant from Pfizer Inc.