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UNC Health Care launches comprehensive smoking cessation program

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that tobacco remains the leading actual cause of death in the United States, with poor diet and physical inactivity rising to second place.

March 10, 2004

UNC Health Care launches comprehensive smoking cessation program
 
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that tobacco remains the leading actual cause of death in the United States, with poor diet and physical inactivity rising to second place.

To combat this problem, the University of North Carolina Health Care System recently launched a new comprehensive smoking cessation program to help patients at UNC Hospitals and members of the public kick the habit.

The inpatient component of the new program is believed to be the only hospital-based service in North Carolina that offers individual assistance in quitting to inpatients during their hospital stay. In addition, the program offers outpatient assistance, a smoking cessation support group and health-care provider education.

Dr. James Donohue, chief of UNC’s Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine, said the new program was needed because cigarette smoking is the major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD, which is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. COPD, which is a collection of diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is expected to be the third-leading cause of death by 2020. In addition, tobacco is the greatest preventable cause of disease and premature death in America today, according to the U.S. surgeon general’s office.

“Smoking cessation is the most effective intervention for COPD, bar none,” Donohue said. “It’s far better for smokers to quit early, before they have to come see a pulmonary specialist to manage the debilitating, painful and life-threatening effects of COPD.”

The new program officially began March 1. It greatly expands upon the smoking cessation classes that UNC Health Care offered previously on a periodic basis. Those classes consisted of a series of six meetings, and enrollment for the series was limited to 10 people. About 30 people a year took part over a four-year period.

These classes have been replaced by a smoking cessation support group that will meet on the third Wednesday of each month in the UNC Lung Center, on the third floor of the Ambulatory Care Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. The program’s goal is for 50-60 people to attend each month. There is no limit on the number of meetings an individual may attend. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17.

Inpatients at UNC Hospitals who are highly motivated to quit smoking during their hospital stay will receive individual assistance from Jeanie Mascarella, a nurse who previously ran UNC Health Care’s smoking cessation classes. People who are not hospitalized may request an appointment at the UNC Lung Center for outpatient assistance provided by Heather Krumnacher, an adult nurse practitioner who will meet with families to develop a quit plan, teach behavior modification techniques and, when appropriate, prescribe medication.

Mascarella and Krumnacher will also provide education about smoking cessation to health-care providers, in conjunction with Dr. Jana Johnson, a clinical assistant professor in UNC’s pulmonary division who also works with a statewide program called Quit Now NC! This education will focus on what the surgeon general’s office calls the “5 A’s” – guidelines that every health-care provider is asked to incorporate into his or her practice. These guidelines are:

  • Ask every patient at each encounter whether he or she uses tobacco products
  • Advise every tobacco user to quit
  • Assess whether the tobacco user is willing to make a quit attempt
  • Assist the person in developing a quit plan
  • Arrange for follow-up contact, preferably within the first week after the quit date

Smokers who are interested in participating in UNC Health Care’s smoking cessation program may call (919) 966-7933 to request an initial consultation.

Media contact: Stephanie Crayton-Robinson, (919) 966-2860, scrayton@unch.unc.edu

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