Helping Patients Quit Smoking


Inpatient hospitalization can be a key time for patients to quit smoking, according to an abstract called “No More Butts: An Automated System for Inpatient Smoking Cessation Team Consults.”1

Tobacco smoking continues to be one of the most important public health threats that we face,” says lead author Sujatha Sankaran, MD, assistant clinical professor in the division of hospital medicine and medical director of smoking cessation at the University of California, San Francisco. “Hospitalization is an extremely important moment and provides an excellent opportunity to counsel and provide cessation resources for people who are concerned about their health.”

Inpatients who receive smoking cessation counseling, nicotine replacement, and referral to outpatient resources have increased quit rates six weeks after hospital discharge, their research showed.

However, according to the abstract, in 2014:

  • 34.5% of tobacco users admitted to one 600-bed academic hospital were documented as having received and accepted tobacco cessation counseling
  • 45.7% of tobacco users received nicotine replacement therapy
  • 1.35% of tobacco users received after-discharge consultations to outpatient smoking cessation resources

Researchers piloted a system in which a dedicated respiratory therapist–staffed smoking cessation consult service was trained to provide targeted tobacco cessation services to all inpatients who use tobacco. Of 1944 patients identified as using tobacco, 1545 received and accepted cessation counseling from a trained member of the Smoking Cessation Team, 1526 received nicotine replacement therapy, and 464 received an electronic referral to either a telephone or in-person quit line

“Hospitalists know firsthand the serious harm that tobacco use causes to patients but often are overwhelmed by the acute issues of patients and are unable to fully address tobacco use with hospitalized patients,” Dr. Sankaran says. “An automated cessation service can help lessen this burden by providing automatic cessation resources to all tobacco users.”


  1. Sankaran S, Burke R, O’Keefe S. No more butts: an automated system for inpatient smoking cessation team consults [abstract]. J Hosp Med. 2016;11(suppl 1). Accessed November 9, 2016.

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