New and Old Strategies for Tobacco Cessation

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the worldwide prevalence of smoking tobacco among males remains over 40%; therefore, physicians should continue to strive to motivate patients to quit smoking using new and old techniques. Most smokers in developed countries know smoking has negative health effects, and nearly half try to quit each year. A dose-response relationship exists between smoking cessation counseling and its effectiveness. The mnemonic “STAR” outlines the essential steps for smoking cessation: help patients set a quit date; tell family and friends and ask for social support; anticipate and plan for challenges in quitting smoking, including withdrawal; and remove all tobacco products. Patients should develop an individual plan of action to address challenges in quitting. A motivational intervention may promote smoking cessation in smokers who state they are not ready to quit. Minimizing withdrawal symptoms with pharmacotherapy is very helpful. The new Food and Drug Administration-approved medication Chantix results in higher quit rates than bupropion in published studies. This article concludes with a discussion of the effectiveness of alternative therapies and a handout for patients.

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