Tobacco Use Treatment for Patients with Asthma

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the state of New Hampshire (NH) had among the highest prevalence of adult asthma rates in the country in 2020, affecting 11.5% of the adult population and 7.2% of children. Asthma accounts for over 4,000 Emergency Room visits and over $177 million in direct medical costs annually. In 2016, 13.5% of adults with asthma in NH were told by their healthcare providers that their condition was caused by workplace factors.

An older black woman uses an inhaler in front of a medical professional

Asthma & Tobacco

In 2021, it was reported that 15.6% of adults in NH who had asthma also smoked cigarettes. Living with a chronic lung disease, such as asthma, makes the lungs more sensitive to tobacco smoke – whether the person is smoking or exposed to it secondhand. Tobacco smoke can destroy lung tissue and trigger other changes in the lungs, which may escalate asthma symptoms and lead to more frequent attacks, increasing risk for more severe diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Vaping is also shown to increase risk of both asthma and COPD.

Children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have more frequent and more serious asthma attacks. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 40% of children who go to the emergency room for asthma live with people who smoke.

Strategies for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals play an important role in their patients’ quit journey. Healthcare professionals can help people who use tobacco or e-cigarettes quit by consistently identifying patients who smoke, advising them to quit, and offering cessation treatments. Even though more healthcare professionals are talking to their patients about quitting smoking, over 40% of adults who smoke do not receive advice to quit from a healthcare professional.

To provide advice on how to quit, healthcare professionals should first routinely screen their patients for tobacco use. It’s critical to talk with patients about their tobacco use at every visit. In addition, providers should:

  1. Work with their patients to create and/or follow an asthma action plan.
  2. Encourage patients to avoid asthma triggers, especially tobacco and secondhand smoke.
  3. Access resources from the Allergy and Asthma Network created specifically for health care providers.

QuitNow-NH can assist all New Hampshire (NH) residents with quitting tobacco. NH healthcare providers should use QuitWorks-NH to refer their patients or encourage them to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW when they are ready to call themselves.

Additional Resources

Ask, Assist, Refer eLearning Module

QuitWorks-NH at a Glance

QuitWorks-NH Tools