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Some Advice From An ER Doctor May Help Smokers Kick The Habit

First Posted: May 01, 2015 07:58 PM EDT

Smoking is a nasty habit, but new research shows that many are more likely to give it up after being instructed by an ER doctor.

For the study, researchers examined 778 participants who smoked. Half of the participants were given motivational interviewing, nicotine replacement and quit line referral.

Findings revealed that participants were up to 250 percent more likely to quit after receiving certain interventions from the emergency department. Furthermore, 12.2 percent of the participants in the intervention group and 4.9 percent in the control group were tobacco-free after three months.

"Because approximately 20 million smokers visit emergency departments annually, this intervention has the potential to greatly reduce tobacco use among our patients," lead study author Dr. Steven L. Bernstein, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a news release. "Given that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the United States, anything we can do to discourage smoking has value. The need is particularly acute in low-income populations like those we studied."

Upon further analysis, researchers also discovere that those in the intervention group were significantly more likely to be tobacco free for at least a year. 

"While a busy emergency department may not welcome the additional responsibility of tobacco-cessation counseling, sometimes we have to meet our patients where they are," Bernstein concluded. "Future research should focus on longer-term interventions, as well as mobile health technologies, such as texting."

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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