Helping Your Patients Quit Smoking

Helping Your Patients Quit Smoking

December 16, 2015

As a provider, you likely already know that when it comes to your patients quitting tobacco, it is not an easy fight. But it is a winnable battle and it is the best change a person can make to improve their health. In some cases, it takes seven to 10 quit attempts before a patient quits for good.

The most effective way for a person to quit using tobacco is to use a combination of counseling and medication, though both can be effective when used by themselves. There are seven Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved tobacco cessation medications including bupropion SR, nicotine gum, inhaler, lozenge, nasal spray, patch, and varenicline, all of which providers should encourage patients to use as appropriate. Vaping devices (also known as electronic cigarettes) are not FDA-approved cessation medications. On the contrary, emerging research indicates some people who use vaping devices may be at an increased risk for not being able to quit smoking[1]. Providers, including medical assistants, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants and physicians can all counsel patients to quit. For added patient support, to ensure patients have resources outside of a medical setting, health care providers can refer them to local resources too. If you are a provider looking for a reliable resource, consider referring patients to one of the following:

State Quitline

The Washington state Quitline has resources available for people who want to quit using tobacco including counseling and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). The quitline will not turn callers away, but they will work to identify the best coverage option by asking patients about their insurance. Services are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and for people who are hearing impaired. Depending on insurance coverage, callers can qualify for self-help materials, gum, patch, and over-the-phone counseling. Patients can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to access the quitline. For providers, the most up-to-date information about the current available resources through the quitline can be found by visiting:

Group Classes

Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) offers a four-week class that takes participants through an evidenced based program to help them quit. It is a free program with classes available in the evenings and by webinar. To enroll in the program, patients can visit

SmartQuit Phone App

Residents of Washington state can use a new app called SmartQuit™. The app is a research-based smoking cessation program that is three times more effective than trying to quit on your own. It can be used with or without nicotine replacement therapy. SmartQuit™ uses an approach to quitting smoking called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Users create a plan that defines what really matters to them and they are asked to become very aware of all urges to smoke. The app teaches users new ways to think about urges to smoke, without acting on them. Four out of five smokers say they prefer the privacy and ease of an app based program over telephone coaching. The app is available at no cost to anyone that lives in the state of Washington and can use used on Android, iOS, and Windows phones. Patients can access the app by visiting

If you have questions about the Quitline, local cessation resources, or what Spokane Regional Health District is doing to decrease tobacco use in Spokane County contact the Tobacco, E-cigarette, and Marijuana Prevention Coordinator by email at or call (509) 324-1504.

[1] http://ajph.aphapublications.o...