Federal health officials issued new guidelines this month for how medical professionals should treat tobacco use and dependence.  The 2008 Clinical Practice Guideline – Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence recognizes the need to address youth smoking and highlights, for the first time, counseling as an effective treatment for helping youth smokers quit.

The Guideline was released by a group of eight Federal and non-profit organizations advised by tobacco treatment researchers and clinicians.  It was last updated in 1997.

The new Guideline promotes telephone-based tobacco cessation counseling offered through “quitlines” as an effective approach for helping smokers.  According to the report, quitlines have the ability to reach a broad and diverse group of people, including youth.

Studies indicate that the average smoker makes seven or more cessation attempts before they are able to quit using tobacco. Services such as the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (operated by DHH’s Tobacco Control Program and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living) and www.Quitwithusla.org are highly effective and convenient methods for Louisiana tobacco users to receive help and support to cease their dependence on tobacco products.

“It is important for people to understand that smoking is an addiction, even for young smokers, and it must be treated seriously and consistently,” said LDH Secretary Alan Levine.  “According to the Louisiana Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of Louisiana middle school students who smoke is 55 percent higher than the national median.”

In Louisiana, 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline offers counseling and cessation services for smokers aged 13 years and older.  Additionally, DHH’s Tobacco Control Program and The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living developed the Fax-To-Quit Louisiana program, which links health care providers to smoking cessation services for their patients.  Health care providers, with consent from a patient, can refer a patient to the quitline via fax, and a quitline counselor will initiate contact with the patient to begin counseling services.

To access the 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines – Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, click here.

For more information about Louisiana Tobacco Cessation Services, contact Tiffany Netters at (225) 342-2664, or e-mail tnetters@dhh.la.gov. Visit www.naquitline.org for Quitline Map featuring services available for tobacco users from each state’s quitline, including Louisiana.