Assisting Patients to Quit

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Even brief tobacco dependence treatment is effective and should be offered to every patient who uses tobacco.  Studies show that a brief 1-3 minute intervention from a healthcare professional can significantly increase the chances that someone quits smoking successful.

You can use the following protocol which is recommended by the Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.

ASK: Ask about tobacco use at every visit.

  • Implement a system in your health care facility that ensures that tobacco use status is obtained and recorded at every patient visit.

ADVISE: Advise all tobacco users to quit.

  • Use clear, strong, personalized, non-judgmental language.

ASSESS: Assess readiness to quit.

  • Ask every tobacco user if he/she is willing to quit at this time. 
  • If willing to quit, provide resources and assistance.
  • If unwilling to quit at this time, help motivate the patient: (1) Identify reasons to quit in a supportive manner; (2) Build patient’s confidence about quitting.

ASSIST: Assist tobacco users with a quit plan.

  • Assist the tobacco user to:
    • Set a quit date, ideally within two weeks.
    • Remove tobacco products from their environment.
    • Get support from family, friends and coworkers.
    • Review past quit attempts – what helped, what led to relapse.
    • Anticipate challenges, particularly during the critical first few weeks, including nicotine withdrawal.
    • Identify reasons for quitting and benefits of quitting.
  • Give advice on successful quitting.
  • Encourage the use of medication.
  • Provide resources such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or

ARRANGE: Arrange follow-up visits.

  • Schedule follow-up visits to review progress toward quitting.
    • If a relapse occurs, encourage repeat quit attempts.
    • Review circumstances that caused relapse. Use relapse as a learning experience.
    • Review medication use and problems.