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How to Talk to Patients

Tobacco Dependence

Smokers cite a doctor's advice to quit as an important motivator for attempting to stop smoking. All health care providers, especially those with direct patient contact, have a unique opportunity to help tobacco users quit.

Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence has been created by the U.S. Department of Human Services to provide information for clinicians about facilitating treatment and treating tobacco dependence. Tools include helping smokers quit, helping pregnant women quit, how health care systems can help, approved NRT medications, and resources to aid professionals.


Tobacco Users Who are Willing to Quit

Successful intervention begins with identifying users, and initiating appropriate interventions based upon the patient's willingness to quit. The "5 A's", Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange, are designed to be effective for the smoker who is willing to quit, and helps the clinician provide treatment that is appropriate and effective. Find out more about



The prevalence of youth smoking has been considered a pediatric epidemic. Youth are vigorously targeted by the tobacco industry and they are particularly vulnerable to its messaging in adolescence. Clinicians are uniquely positioned to present adolescents with the message of prevention.

  1. Identify adolescents who are at risk by asking questions
  2. Interview adolescents separately from the parent
  3. Ensure confidentiality
  4. Use a structured interview approach
  5. Engage in prevention techniques that are deemed effective