New book on smoking cessation not aimed at patients, but doctors

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With the new year past, the turkey dinner a faint grumble in the stomach, and sunnier days ahead, we start to stretch and train anew.

While most of the population has already jumped on bikes and treadmills at the local gym, others stand still.

They slowly turn that last golden cigarette in their hand, and sigh: to quit or not to quit?

New year’s’ resolutions are tough to keep, and often bring new challenges – not only for those looking to butt out, but also for those aiding the cause.

A new book on smoking cessation looks to change just that.

Disease Interrupted: Tobacco Reduction and Cessation was written to give health professionals clear directions and better skills to treat tobacco addiction.

Co-editor Charl Els, a psychiatrist and associate clinical professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, said Disease Interrupted is the first book to contain Canadian clinical guidelines on treating tobacco patients.

The book was written by 50 authors from around the globe, with two or three physicians from a medical field collaborating on a chapter.

“It’s a combination of 16 chapters that span across the field of tobacco addiction and cessation, including treatment in youth, pregnancy and people with mental illness,” he said.

“There’s a section on the neurobiology, a section that helps with counselling, and a section on the medication available for treatment.”

Els said the book not only addresses family physicians, but also psychiatrists, dentists and nurses.

Twenty per cent of Canada’s population smokes, and 70 per cent of smokers visit a doctor once a year.

He said this puts every physician in a position to comment on the smoker’s condition and offer treatment options.

“By just asking and advising every patient who smokes you can already make a difference,” he said.

“This is relevant to any health professional because smokers go to a dentist, they go to pharmacies.”

Els said physicians are often unsure what technique or medicine works best in their specific field and on their patients.

Treating tobacco addicts is not as simple as using one method only.

Each person requires a different approach and different care, often a combination of different methods and ideas.

“That’s why our advantage was that the book is not including just one opinion but crosses international boundaries and borders,” Els said.

“It’s not just the way we do business in Edmonton but it’s literally a summary of the best global international research. We did not want to restrict it to a Canadian audience.”

Els added that Disease Interrupted was funded by Health Canada and not the pharmaceutical industry, and is not designed to sell pharmaceutical products.

Brian Jackson, executive director for the Primary Care Network in St. Albert, said many staff and nurses in physician’s offices are trained to help people with butting out that last cigarette.

He agreed, however, that there are many options to stop smoking, and not every one works on every person.

“Whatever you find, there is always something written that shows that there is a better way than doing that. There is always a different and a better way,” he said.

“Experience tells me that usually a little bit of everything helps.”

Jackson said guidelines are useful but physicians still need to find individual solutions and ways to fight the addiction.

Often personal, financial and work-related stress affects a person’s motivation.

Some may find excuses to continue smoking and Jackson said most people require additional support networks to help them kick the habit.

These networks can be physicians, family members and friends.

But with all that in mind, he added that the decision to stop smoking is still up to the individual.

“It’s about reducing stress and finding a time that is not stressful. Each person’s stress is different and takes place at different times,” he said.

“But just because you give up in January and it doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that giving up in March and learning from what you did in January means it’s not going to work.”

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