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Public Health Rep. 1984 Sep-Oct;99(5):510-4.

The dentist's role in cessation of cigarette smoking.


Dentists in general practice were surveyed by mail questionnaire to determine the actions they were taking to promote cigarette smoking cessation among their patients. Findings are based on replies from 376 of the 466 dentists in western New York State to whom the questionnaire was sent in 1981. The responses indicate that less than 18 percent of western New York State dentists smoke. The proportion is continuing its gradual decline, and dentists lead the general population in smoking abstention. Sixty-two percent of the dentists in the survey do not permit smoking in their waiting rooms, and 84 percent advise patients not to smoke. There is clear evidence of a relationship between the dentists' own smoking habits and their inclination to promote smoking cessation among patients. As fewer dentists smoke, more will be inclined to foster nonsmoking. Dentists can use a variety of smoking cessation techniques. To carry out a minimal program of antismoking measures, dentists in general practice can serve as nonsmoking role models for their patients, provide information about the health hazards of smoking, give advice, refer patients to cessation programs, recommend cessation measures, and monitor patients' efforts to quit smoking. While smoking cessation measures taken by dentists are not likely to convert more than 1 or 2 percent of patients who smoke per year, in time the dentists' efforts to promote smoking cessation can have an appreciable impact.

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