New Guidelines for Smokers' Health Care

Cigarette smoking health care guidelines released by US Preventive Services Task Force

(RxWiki News) Smoking has been tied to numerous health issues. Now an expert panel has made recommendations for doctors who care for adults and pregnant women who smoke.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued the latest guidelines on smoking. According to these guidelines, doctors should screen all adults and pregnant women and advise smokers to quit with proven interventions.

The USPSTF makes periodic recommendations for screening, counseling and preventive medications based on scientific evidence.

The task force members are volunteers in various medical areas who are experts in preventive medicine.

The reviewers initially looked at 114 articles on tobacco use and smoking cessation. Fifty-four reviews were included in the final analysis.

The task force guidelines apply to all patients older than 18, including pregnant women.

Doctors should screen all adult patients about tobacco use, the USPSTF recommends.

In addition to smoking, this includes cigars, snuff and electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that produce a nicotine vapor the user inhales.

When a patient uses tobacco, the doctor should discuss quitting with the patient, according to the USPSTF.

Options for most adults include behavior modification and/or medications for smoking cessation.

A variety of smoking-cessation methods and drugs are available. However, according to the USPSTF, there is not enough evidence to recommend particular therapies.

In particular, the task force notes that data on the use of e-cigs is inadequate to allow for recommendations.

For pregnant women, the task force only recommends behavior modification.

Although the scope of the new guidelines is broad, the USPSTF said the doctor and patient should make a joint decision based on the patient’s individual situation.

The USPSTF suggests doctors use a framework to engage patients in talking about smoking cessation. First, the doctor should ask every patient about tobacco use and should advise all tobacco users to quit.

After assessing willingness to quit, the doctor should assist patients and arrange follow-up care.

These guidelines were published Sept. 21 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded this research. All authors disclosed grants from the AHRQ.

Review Date: 
September 20, 2015