With training, friends and family can help loved ones quit tobacco

February 5, 2014 by Katherine Kahn
With training, friends and family can help loved ones quit tobacco

Today, one in five people in the U.S. smokes tobacco. Traditionally, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers have been the ones to deliver smoking cessation messages. A new study in the American Journal of Health Behavior finds that simple training in effective smoking cessation strategies can motivate anyone—even those without a medical background—to encourage their friends, family and acquaintances to stop smoking.

"People are concerned about their own health and their loved ones' health," says lead study author Myra Muramoto, M.D. of the University of Arizona Department of Family and Community Medicine. "They might want to help a loved one quit , but a lot of times they don't know what to do."

To address this issue, Muramoto and her colleagues designed both a Web-based and in-person training program for people who want to help others quit tobacco. The trainings focused not only on facts about tobacco use, says Muramoto, but also how to effectively get the message across—without nagging or confrontation. "We put a lot of emphasis on communication strategies and building empathy," she says. "If someone has not struggled with themselves they may not understand why someone can't just quit."

Researchers then recruited 898 people from the general public to test the effectiveness of the programs in motivating participants to encourage tobacco cessation in others. Participants were enrolled in the Web-based training, the in-person training or in a group that only received mailed materials on smoking cessation.

The study found that more than 80 percent of participants in each group reported discussing tobacco cessation with someone who used tobacco in the previous 3 months, and over 70 percent had done so in the previous month—even those participants who only received mailings.

"This was really a surprise to us," Muramoto says. "We didn't expect that people who got pamphlets in the mail would really do anything. That speaks to their level of motivation to help loved ones quit tobacco."

However, the study did find that people who received either the Web-based or in-person training were more knowledgeable about and were more confident discussing it than people who only received mailings.

Norman Edelman, M.D., senior medical advisor for the American Lung Association, remarked that the study "shows quite clearly that you can train people [without medical knowledge] to deliver informative messages. A brief , when it's structured, does improve knowledge about smoking cessation, and more importantly, results in people delivering a message more often. To me, that is useful."

Explore further: Stimulant-addicted patients can quit smoking without hindering treatment

More information: Muramoto ML, Hall, JR, Nichter M, et al. "Activating lay health influencers to promote tobacco cessation." Am J Health Behav. 2014;38(3):392-403. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.5993/AJHB.38.3.8

Related Stories

Stimulant-addicted patients can quit smoking without hindering treatment

December 11, 2013
Smokers who are addicted to cocaine or methamphetamine can quit smoking while being treated for their stimulant addiction, without interfering with stimulant addiction treatment. This is according to new research funded by ...

Smartphone apps to help smokers quit come up short

November 17, 2013
Many of the 11 million smokers in the U.S. have downloaded smartphone apps created to help them quit smoking. But since most of these apps don't include practices proven to help smokers quit, they may not be getting the help ...

Veterans groups miss opportunities to curb tobacco use

October 31, 2013
Studies have shown that U.S. military veterans smoke at a higher rate than civilians. Websites targeting veterans, however, fail to provide information about the risks of tobacco products and how to quit smoking, finds a ...

Long-term varenicline treatment supports tobacco abstinence in people with mental illness

January 7, 2014
Extended treatment with the smoking cessation drug varenicline (Chantix) significantly improved the ability of individuals with serious mental illness to maintain abstinence from tobacco after a standard 12-week course of ...

ASCO issues recommendations for promoting tobacco control

July 30, 2013
(HealthDay)—The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has updated the 2003 recommendations on tobacco cessation and control; the policy statement has been published online July 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Cigarette smoking after cancer diagnosis increases risk of death

December 6, 2013
Men who continued to smoke after a cancer diagnosis had an increased risk of death compared with those who quit smoking after diagnosis, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal ...

Recommended for you

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.