Providers: Helping to Meet Maine's Goals
Maine providers represent a crucial step in tobacco prevention and treatment. Physicians, health care workers, social service workers, and representatives of non-profit service organizations who interact with patients and clients are able to provide guidance, resources, and treatment options that could help them end their dependence on tobacco. Providers are agents for assessment, education, counsel, and treatment and can guide tobacco users toward support and self-management.
The goal of the Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine is to increase the capacity of clinicians to provide services, enhance their ability to address issues of prevention and secondhand smoke, and provide training to individuals, physicians offices and clinics.
- Providers are uniquely positioned to help smokers quit.
- According to statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services, tobacco use treatment doubles quitting success rates. Counseling and medications or a combination of both have been found to be safe, effective ways to initiate smoking treatment. By reducing health care costs, increasing job productivity and reducing life insurance costs, tobacco cessation can cut costs and health burdens for our state.
- Youth smokers are a pediatric epidemic.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the high rate of youth smokers has been characterized as a pediatric epidemic. Youth who continue to smoke face chronic tobacco dependence and a life of negative health consequences. Tobacco treatment counseling is effective in improving quit rates among adults and has been recommended for adolescents. Because physicians, health care workers, and other professionals have unique access to adolescents, they play a vital role in the cycle of use.
- Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable.
- Smoking before and during pregnancy is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. It increases the risk of complications, premature delivery, and sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking increases the chances of low birth weight, a leading cause of infant deaths, and is linked to increased risk of heart defects and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is important that pregnant mothers receive medication and support at this important time to help them quit.
The Provider's Role in Tobacco Treatment
70% of smokers say they want to quit, but few succeed without help. However, smokers consistently cite a doctor’s advice to quit as an important motivator for attempting to stop smoking. The provider’s role includes:
- Conducting interviews to ask clients and patients about their smoking status
- Delivering stage appropriate interventions and support, and assisting in creating a plan to quit
- Identifying smokers among patients who have been diagnosed with one or more chronic illness and assist them in quitting
- Helping limit the prevalent use of tobacco products in adolescents by developing and implementing effective tobacco-use intervention for this population
The Public Health Service Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence provides evidence based strategies and recommendations for tobacco treatment.
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The Social Service Worker’s Role in Treatment
Social Service workers are important resources to their clients. Social service workers who are trained in tobacco intervention help to expand the reach of treatment services, and through brief interventions using the Five A’s they can be effective in helping clients quit. It ony takes about a minute.
- Social service workers work with populations known to have higher smoking rates, including pregnant women on MaineCare, clients with behavioral health and substance abuse issues, and individuals of low economic or educational status.
- Social service workers are skilled in providing advice and resources to their clients, and often are the only access the client has to healthcare.
- Social service workers are often more trusted by the client than healthcare providers, and are well positioned to offer brief interventions.
- Social service workers with limited time can refer patients to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine for free material and support.
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The Maine Tobacco HelpLine: Support leads to success.
The Maine Tobacco Helpline, established to provide over-the-phone clinical treatment for Maine tobacco users who want to quit, has achieved a 21% long term quit rate – an outcome that is three times higher than results seen with smokers who quit on their own.
In addition to providing access to nicotine replacement therapy for smokers without insurance, The Maine Tobacco Helpline plays a fundamental role in supporting the efforts of clinicians, professionals, friends, and family of tobacco users.
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Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists
The Maine Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification Program helps to facilitate training for the certification process of The Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS-C), and is a key program in the state’s work toward expanding the reach of cessation.
The TTS is a trained health professional who specializes in the treatment of tobacco dependence as part of his or her professional role. By demonstrating the knowledge and skills to provide current and effective treatment for tobacco dependence, these specialists serve as a resource for other healthcare professionals.
Learn more about the Maine Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification Program.
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