Nearly 60 years after the landmark 1964 Surgeon General’s report, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with about 480,000 deaths per year. In 2019, 14% of Americans smoked cigarettes, still above the Healthy People 2020 goal of 12% prevalence. Moreover, although tobacco dependence has declined across all demographic groups, the rate of decline has been slower among individuals of lower socioeconomic status, leading to higher smoking prevalence among this group. Individuals at particular risk include those with low income or low education, those with serious mental illness, and individuals with other substance use disorders.
These groups of smokers are frequently treated in emergency departments (EDs). ED patients are disproportionate of low socioeconomic status and more likely to smoke than the general population. In addition, ED smokers often present with illnesses caused or exacerbated by tobacco use or have injuries for which smoking impedes healing. Hence, the ED visit represents an opportune time to discuss patients’ tobacco use and its relevance to their current visit and to initiate tobacco treatment and aftercare. This represents an evolving standard of treatment in treating many ED patients with substance use disorders, including tobacco.
Read the study results in Science Direct.