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Pediatricians Can Help Parents Quit Smoking

3/2/2009  

Quitting smoking is one of the best things parents can do for their health and the health of their children. Now they can get assistance from an unexpected source - their child’s pediatrician.

A new resource offers pediatricians the tools they need to screen parents for smoking, offer counseling and enroll parents in a free smoking-cessation helpline. Using the existing state quit line known as “QuitWorks,” Massachusetts is promoting “QuitWorks for Child and Family Health Care Practitioners” statewide this month. The program is based on research from the Clinical Effort Against Secondhand Smoke Exposure (CEASE) program of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which is also available free to other public health departments and pediatric offices across the nation.

Because of their regular, frequent contacts with families, pediatricians are uniquely positioned to help parents quit smoking, said Jonathan Winickoff, MD, FAAP, assistant professor of pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and founder of CEASE.

“Tobacco use is a serious health issue for all members of a family,” Winickoff said. “We’re getting the biggest return on our investment by targeting parents who smoke. Not only do we hope to reduce children’s exposure to second-hand and third-hand smoke, but if more parents quit smoking, fewer children will grow up to be smokers.”

CEASE is available through the AAP Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence, whose mission is to improve child health by eliminating children’s exposure to secondhand smoke and tobacco. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health worked with the Massachusetts chapter of AAP to incorporate CEASE materials into the QuitWorks program for statewide dissemination.

Carole Allen, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP Massachusetts chapter, said local pediatricians are enthusiastic about implementing parent-focused smoking cessation strategies in their practices. “If you smoke, the best way to protect your child’s health is to quit,” said Allen. “Now pediatricians can do more than just tell you to quit-they can help you to quit. It’s a big difference.”

Massachusetts is the first state to deliver CEASE materials to all pediatric offices. The module can be adapted to suit any state’s smoking cessation program.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that every state should invest some of its tobacco control resources in programs that will help pediatricians help parents protect children from secondhand smoke,” said Dr. David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP, president of the AAP, which represents more than 60,000 pediatricians.

For more information about CEASE and other resources for clinicians and families, see http://www.aap.org/richmondcenter/resources.html . To see a video demonstration of the program, visit http://www.ceasetobacco.org.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.