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Even brief advice by a health care professional increases the probability of a smoker quitting and, as a result, is highly cost-effective.



Brief advice on smoking cessation from a health care professional increases the probability of a smoker quitting. A smoker consulting his or her physician about health problems can be more receptive to advice to stop smoking, particularly if their conditions are related to their smoking habit. Assuming that an unassisted yearly quit rate is about 2 to 3%, a brief advice intervention can increase quitting by additional 1 to 3 percentage points. Training health professionals to provide smoking cessation interventions has a significant effect on the point prevalence of smoking and continuous abstinence. Documentation of tobacco use status for patients in the healthcare system by a physician or member of a healthcare team on a regular basis can increase the rate of clinician intervention. However, the effectiveness of brief advice varies significantly between individual practitioners, highlighting the need for trained professionals when delivering face-to-face behavioral support.

The costs of providing advice on quitting are usually low if the advice is a by-product of a medical consultation. As a result, this method is highly cost-effective. A meta-analysis of 17 trials examining the effect of brief advice from a physician found that cessation rates increased by an average of 66% (95% CI 42%-94%) compared to those smokers not receiving advice. Brief advice from a physician in the UK costs about £469 (US$750) per life-year saved.  A US study found that costs of physician counseling were between US$705 and US$988 per life-year for men, and US$1,204 to US$2,058 per life-year for women. A Netherlands study found minimal primary care physician counseling to be cost-saving. However, some evidence suggests that group interventions for smoking cessation may be more effective than one-on-one interventions.



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