Health care system best practices for tobacco treatment: Part 4 in a series on tobacco use and prevention for Alaska Native people

May 8, 2015

Sixty-six percent of smokers see a physician every year. In Alaska, 67 percent of smokers and 62 percent of smokeless tobacco users want to quit, according to Alaska Tobacco Facts. Over the last several weeks, we have shared information on tobacco use among Alaska Native people, the power of strong anti-tobacco policy and the emerging threat from new tobacco products. All of these are proven interventions to turn the tide of the tobacco epidemic among Alaska Native people, but perhaps no intervention is more powerful than the role of Tribal health care providers in supporting tobacco cessation for the people we care for. Tribal health care providers play a critical role in helping Alaskans quit tobacco. Whether it be a hospital, specialty care clinic, rural health center or behavioral health setting, the simple act of asking about tobacco use during a patient visit and introducing tobacco quit programs can be a successful start to treatment for tobacco use and dependence. Evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that screening for tobacco use and providing an intervention is one of the most effective clinical services when it comes to reducing health care costs and increasing patient quit rates. Tribal health systems with integrated clinical practice strategies around tobacco use encourage and support Alaska Native people to quit tobacco for life. Treating tobacco use and dependence as a standard of care throughout all Tribal health services creates the expectation for clients to quit and makes it easier for providers to implement tobacco interventions. Tobacco Cessation Best Practices for health care organizations include: 1) Implementing a user identification system in every clinic; 2) Providing education, resources and feedback to promote provider intervention; 3) Dedicating staff to provide tobacco treatment and assessment of the delivery of treatment; 4) Promoting hospital policies that support and provide inpatient tobacco treatment services; 5) Including tobacco treatment counseling and medication as a covered benefit of employee health insurance and beneficiary services; and 6) Adopting a tobacco-free campus policy. You can engage with other smoke-free advocates at the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Smokefree Alaska Summit on May 20-22 in Anchorage. Visit the summit website for more information and registration: The ANTHC Tobacco Prevention and Control Program also has resources available for more information or assistance implementing tobacco cessation best practices in your health care setting. Please feel free to visit our website or contact our program staff at

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