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Doctors Should Offer All Smokers Help with Quitting, Study Says

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Although doctors typically gauge a smoker’s willingness to quit before offering help in doing so, new research indicates that help should be offered to all smokers.

After reviewing 13 past clinical trials, UK researchers found that some smokers at least tried to quit after getting simple advice from a doctor, but actual assistance in quitting (such as counseling or nicotine replacement therapy) worked better.

Based on three of those studies, the researchers say, such help could prompt an additional 40 to 60 percent of smokers attempt to kick the habit. What’s more, in all three of the studies, help was offered to smokers without first checking their “willingness to quit.”

The findings are published in the journal Addiction.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 36 percent of the nation’s smokers try to quit each year, but only three percent succeed in quitting for six months or more. Experts say many smokers have to try a few different tactics before they find the one that works for them.

But Dr. Paul Aveyard, who lead the new study, says that by offering all smokers some help, there will be more long-term quitters simply because there will be more people trying.

“I guess what we are saying is that people are sometimes ready to take action without having thought about it prior to that,” he said. “Make them a good offer and they’ll act.”

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