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 HHS Encourages All Smokers to Quit on  
by Department of Health and Human Services - 5/31/2005

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today encouraged every smoker in the United States to quit and called on their health care providers to help them. Currently, only half of all tobacco users are encouraged by their health care provider to quit tobacco, even though eliminating tobacco use is the most cost effective preventive intervention.

"For smokers across the country I want today, World No Tobacco Day, to be the first day of the rest of their non-smoking lives," Secretary Leavitt said. "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the nation and we need to work together to encourage smokers to quit."

Secretary Leavitt set a goal for health care providers to advise 100 percent of all tobacco users to quit smoking and to refer smokers who want to quit to the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines, 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669), for free support.

The network is a collaboration between states and the federal government to help more smokers quit. Health care providers also are encouraged to discuss effective pharmacological treatments, such as nicotine replacement therapies, with their patients who smoke.

More than 440,000 people die each year from a smoking-related illness. Quitting smoking now will greatly reduce your risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, cataracts, childbirth defects and premature death.

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on May 31. The theme of World No Tobacco Day this year is the major role that health care providers can and do play to reduce tobacco use. They provide encouragement and support to help tobacco users quit, and provide important information on the most effective medications available.

Research demonstrates that advice from health care providers' to patients to quit smoking is helpful in increasing smoking cessation efforts. Medical professionals have the potential to reach a high percentage of smokers every day and in so doing, they have the opportunity to help smokers change their behavior. Health care professionals can give advice, guidance, and answers to questions related to the consequences of tobacco use. They also can serve as role models for non-smoking.

A collaboration was formed between HHS and WebMD/Medscape to train physicians and other healthcare providers on how to help smokers quit. WebMD/Medscape provides free Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits to those who take the training. More information about this service is available at

"If every medical professional encouraged all tobacco-using patients to quit, they could make a dramatic impact on saving lives in America," Secretary Leavitt said.

Provided by Department of Health and Human Services on 5/31/2005
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