Health Care Treating Special Populations of Smokers

Treating Special Populations

The Helpline is available to all California residents who want help to quit tobacco. But providers who refer to the Helpline may have questions about certain groups:

People with mental illness (MI) or substance use disorders (SUD). People with MI/SUD are more likely to smoke than people without. They’re also more likely to die of smoking-related disease than of MI/SUD. The good news is that most smokers with MI/SUD do want to quit, and can quit successfully. The Helpline helps them develop and implement a plan for quitting, while encouraging them to obtain extra support from their behavioral health providers. Providers should be proactive in encouraging clients to quit. Read more here.

Smokers with chronic disease. Smoking harms every part of the body, so it is not surprising that many smokers develop chronic conditions such as heart disease or emphysema. This is especially true if they have smoked for many years. Smoking may also contribute to conditions that have other causes, such as diabetes. But most conditions, even those that are not tobacco-related, may be managed better after smokers quit.

Pregnant smokers. Smoking during pregnancy causes birth defects, low birth weight, pre-term delivery, and even miscarriage. It can lead to attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. So it is critical that women not smoke while pregnant. In fact, women are more likely to quit during pregnancy than any other time. Funded by First 5 California, the Helpline offers special services for pregnant smokers, proven effective in a randomized trial. Read more here.

Parents of children 0 to 5. Most new parents see their children’s pediatrician more often than their own provider. One of the best things pediatric providers can do for their young patients is to help their parents quit smoking by prescribing quitting aids where appropriate and referring to the Helpline. Funded by First 5 California, the CEASE project trains pediatric practices to do just that. Read more here.

Tobacco chewers. While less harmful than smoking, chewing tobacco is not safe. It can cause oral cancer, heart disease, and bone and tooth loss. The Helpline has special services to help tobacco chewers quit available by calling 1-800-844-CHEW. Read more here.

Teens. Most smokers start when they’re in their teens, and school-based programs focus on preventing teens from starting. Few programs are available to help teen smokers quit. The Helpline is one such program, offering a specialized protocol for teens ages 14-17 who want to quit. Parental consent is required for follow-up counseling sessions. Read more here.

Regardless of clients’ special circumstances, Helpline counseling is always tailored to the individual.

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