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Outreach Program May Help Poorer Smokers Quit

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MONDAY, Dec. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of outreach program was effective in helping poorer Americans quit smoking, researchers say.

People with low incomes in the United States have higher rates of smoking, according to the authors of the study. They also have more smoking-related diseases, and seem to have greater difficulty quitting, the researchers noted.

Despite these factors, little research has focused on ways to help poorer Americans to quit smoking, the study authors said.

The new study included low-income adult smokers in the Boston area who were randomly selected to receive either usual care from their usual health care providers or to take part in a program to help them quit smoking.

The program included telephone-based counseling. It also provided free nicotine-replacement therapy for six weeks. In addition, the program offered referrals to community-based resources to address social factors associated with smoking.

All of these methods helped the participants quit smoking, according to the study published online Dec. 15 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The most common requests for referrals to community resources were for physical activity, job counseling and educational opportunities. People who asked for a referral to community resources were nearly 44 percent more likely to quit smoking, the researchers found.

"Our findings demonstrate that this type of proactive outreach to address the social context of smoking can promote tobacco cessation in disadvantaged populations," study lead author Dr. Jennifer Haas, physician and researcher in the general medicine and primary care division at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a hospital news release.

"Interventions to reduce tobacco use for these populations may reduce disparities in preventable deaths in the United States, which is an important public health goal," she added.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

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