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Even brief advice by a health care professional increases the probability of a smoker quitting and, as a result, is highly cost-effective.



Brief advice on smoking cessation from a health care professional increases the probability of a smoker quitting. Smokers consulting their physician about health problems can be more receptive to advice to stop smoking, particularly if their conditions are related to their smoking habit. Assuming that an unassisted yearly quit rate is about 2 to 3%, a brief advice intervention can increase quitting by additional 1 to 3 percentage points. The costs of providing advice on quitting are usually low if the advice is a by-product of a medical consultation. As a result, this method is highly cost-effective. A meta-analysis of 17 trials examining the effect of brief advice from a physician found that cessation rates increased by an average of 66% (95% CI 42%-94%) compared to those smokers not receiving advice. Brief advice from a physician in the UK costs about £469 (US$750) per life-year saved.  A US study found that costs of physician counseling were between US$705 and US$988 per life-year for men, and US$1,204 to US$2,058 per life-year for women. A Netherlands study found including minimal primary care physician counseling to be cost-saving.



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Cummings SR, Rubin SM, Oster G. The cost-effectiveness of counseling smokers to quit. JAMA. 1989; 261: 75-79.

Feenstra TL, Hamberg-van Reenen HH, Hoogenveen RT, Rutten-van Mölken MP. Cost-effectiveness of face-to-face smoking cessation interventions: a dynamic modeling study. Value Health. 2005; 8(3): 178-190.

Stead LF, Buitrago D, Preciado N, Sanchez G, Hartmann-Boyce J, Lancaster T. Physician advice for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD000165. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000165.pub4.

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