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    Survey: Most Smokers Want to Quit

    But Study Shows Only 1/3 of Smokers Use Counseling or Medication to Help Them Quit

    Trying to Quit Smoking continued...

    "That is the big question," said Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, during a news briefing. He is the director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "The good news is that we have a series of well-tested policy-level and individual-level interventions, all of which work."

    He says that one of the best ways to accomplish this lofty goal is to keep moving forward with policy changes that make it easier for smokers to do what they want to do: quit successfully. These include bans on smoking in public spaces, including outdoor areas. State programs aimed at reducing smoking have also been successful and should be encouraged and expanded.

    "We also need to do more to address the issue of price," he says. "The tobacco industry is trying to undercut the price of tobacco to keep people smoking."

    Role of Doctors

    Doctors can also do their part to get their patients to stop smoking for good. The new report suggests that the number of smokers who have been advised by a health care professional on quitting is slightly lower than what has been seen in previous reports. This doesn't necessarily imply that doctors are dropping the ball. The order of survey questions was tweaked from previous surveys, so that could explain the finding.

    "Other national data sets that examined whether smokers are getting advice to quit from their doctors have seen no change, so this slight decrease may not be real," says study researcher Ann Malarcher, PhD. She is the senior scientific advisor in the epidemiology branch of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

    McAfee says doctors should discuss available quit-smoking medications and methods with smokers. There are more quit-smoking medications available today than ever before. These include nicotine-replacement patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, and inhalers. Varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban) are also FDA-approved to help people quit.

    "Doctors should not be ganging up on, harassing, or making people feel bad about smoking because a large majority want to quit," he says.

    Len Horovitz, MD, says that it is "do ask, do tell" when it comes to discussing smoking with your doctor. He is a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

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