Magazine article Drug Topics

Agency Encourages Clinicians to Help Patients Quit Smoking

Magazine article Drug Topics

Agency Encourages Clinicians to Help Patients Quit Smoking

Article excerpt

A new clinical practice guideline established by the Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Health Care Policy & Research (AHCPR) advises clinicians to aggressively assist patients in their smoking-cessation efforts. Health-care professionals are urged to question patients about their smoking habits and offer encouragement and treatment options, such as nicotine patches or gum.

The release of the guideline is timely in light of the recent and imminent Food & Drug Administration approval of over-the-counter forms of nicotine gum and patches (see story above and page 104).

A panel of experts reviewed more than 3,000 scientific articles addressing tobacco dependence, nicotine addiction, and clinical practice in order to develop this guideline. Their recommendations focus not only on helping smokers quit but also on helping them deal with related issues, such as weight gain and coping with stress.

Though the panel encouraged use of nicotine patches and gum, when necessary, it made no recommendations about nicotine nasal sprays nor inhalers because of limited data on these products. The panel also refrained from commenting on other treatments and drug therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis, clonidine, antidepressants, and anxiolytics/benzodiazepines because of insufficient or inconclusive data. …

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