By Michael Ong
Smokers with these co-morbid conditions make up about 40 percent of the smoking population, have a more difficult time quitting and represent a significant burden on the health care system. If their primary care physicians could help them to quit smoking, it would not only improve their health of patients but would reduce tobacco-related health care costs, said Dr. Michael Ong, an assistant professor of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a researcher with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“We found it would be very effective for primary care physicians to provide help in quitting smoking to these patients,” Ong said. “However, in the context of everything these physicians are trying to do in a day, smoking cessation may fall by the wayside. It’s also been thought that with this patient population, doctors should only take on one thing at a time, for example treating an opiate addiction and opting to deal with the smoking cessation later. But at the end of the day, we showed that smoking cessation counseling is effective in this patient population and should definitely be pursued.”