Physicians can play an important role in smoking cessation because they have frequent contact with smokers and because most smokers believe that a physician's advice is important in the decision to quit. Therefore, to determine smokers' perceptions of physician involvement in smoking cessation, we analyzed aggregate data from two random statewide surveys of 5875 Michigan adults. Of smokers who had seen a physician in the previous year, only 44% reported that they had ever been told to quit smoking by a physician. Young male smokers were the least likely (30%) to have been told to quit. Smokers who were hypertensive, obese, diabetic, sedentary, or users of oral contraceptives were no more likely to have been told to quit than smokers without these additional cardiovascular risks. Conversely, smokers who had survived a myocardial infarction or stroke were more likely to have been told to quit than smokers who had not suffered these events (73% vs 43%). Most smokers do not perceive physicians to be even minimally involved in their efforts to quit. Physicians need to increase their efforts in counseling smokers to quit before smoking-related diseases result, especially for smokers with additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Robert F. Anda, Patrick L. Remington, Dean G. Sienko, Ronald M. Davis. Are Physicians Advising Smokers to Quit?The Patient's Perspective. JAMA. 1987;257(14):1916–1919. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390140086032