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Treating tobacco addiction as a chronic medical condition.

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Tobacco consumption remains the leading preventable cause of death, disease and disability. Nicotine is the chemical compound sustaining tobacco addiction, a lethal chronic disease, and the major cause of other prevalent chronic diseases. The downward trend of prevalence rates in Canada appears to have levelled with smoking rates hovering at 18%. Of those individuals who currently smoke, 70% would like to stop and half will try to quit at least once this year. But unless provided with evidence-based and multimodal treatment, only 3-5% of individuals who try will be abstinent six months later. International standards recommend treatment that includes offering combinations of counselling and pharmacotherapy for every individual wanting to quit. But unlike other chronic diseases, most individuals with tobacco addiction are often precluded from treatment because prevailing ideologies frame their disease as a “lifestyle choice”. This profound misinterpretation of a chronic disease poses a significant barrier to effective tobacco control and a major contributor to unsustainable growth in excess health spending across Canada. Our existing tobacco control paradigm will likely not yield the desired health outcomes and costs savings until policy and clinical practice are aligned with scientific evidence. Furthermore, an urgent need is identified to incorporate an increased level of vigilance for depression and other neuropsychiatric issues has been identified. This manuscript outlines the health professional’s legal duty to treat and introduces a single algorithmic approach to achieve such. This integrated and unified approach is aimed at defragmenting current approaches by crossing disciplines and levels of care. This guide for safe and effective treatment delivery may be particularly appropriate to resource- scarce settings.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
  • License
    © 2010 Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Els C, Kunyk D. Treating tobacco addiction as a chronic medical condition. Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy 46.3 (2010), 8-19.