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Respir Care. 2009 Aug;54(8):1082-90.

Tobacco treatment and prevention: what works and why.

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  • 1Respiratory Care Program, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA.


Tobacco abuse is one of the main reasons that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Many people kick the habit easily, while others struggle through a difficult cycle of addiction. Respiratory therapists often have contact with patients with chronic lung disease who want to quit smoking but do not know where to begin. Smoking bans and clean air laws are in place across the United States, but this is not enough for a complete tobacco treatment and prevention program. For any successful disease-management program, tobacco-control education and support must be included. Studies show that when pharmacologic interventions are used along with the appropriate counseling and other resources, the success of tobacco cessation increases. This must be understood, because if the regulatory efforts of our governing bodies are not enough and if patients do not receive the care that is essential for disease management and rehabilitation, then how will our role as respiratory therapist matter in any health-care system of the future? The respiratory therapist plays a key role in asking patients, especially newly diagnosed patients with chronic lung disease, if they are smokers and if they are interested in tobacco use interventions. This is a role that should not be taken lightly.

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