Tobacco Use Treatment for Patients with Diabetes

In New Hampshire (NH), 9% of the adult population (or 97,000 individuals) have been diagnosed with diabetes. An estimated 7,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes in NH every year. There are also adults who have diabetes but are unaware of it or have not received a diagnosis yet.

A female medical professional wearing a hijab talks with a client while holding a tool to help track and manage diabetes.

Diabetes & Tobacco

Nicotine raises blood sugar levels, whether it is inhaled from traditional cigarettes or e–cigarettes. People who use tobacco are 30% to 40% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than people who don’t use tobacco. People who vape have a 22% greater risk of developing prediabetes. The risk of diabetes increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

Studies have confirmed that when people with type 2 diabetes are exposed to high levels of nicotine, insulin is less effective. People with diabetes who use tobacco then need larger doses of insulin to control their blood sugar. Insulin can start to become more effective at lowering blood sugar levels just eight weeks after a person quits tobacco. Since products with nicotine raise blood sugar, patients who are using nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) – such as gum, patches, and lozenges – should check their blood sugar more frequently.

No matter what type of diabetes someone has, tobacco use makes diabetes harder to manage. In addition, people who smoke and have diabetes have an increased risk of:

  • Nerve damage in their arms and legs, which can result in numbness, pain, weakness, and impaired coordination in these areas.
  • Diabetic foot amputation.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Microvascular complications, affecting the small blood vessels in the body. These issues can result in blindness and a decrease in kidney function. One in three adults suffering from diabetes has chronic kidney disease.

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 them cessation treatments.

Although diabetes risk factors like family history and race cannot be changed, quitting tobacco is a healthy lifestyle habit that can help to decrease your patient’s chances of developing diabetes or worsening their condition.

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

  1. Explain the numerous health benefits that patients will experience when they quit tobacco for good.
  2. Encourage their patients to increase the number of blood sugar checks if they are using nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs).

Most people who use tobacco find that a combination of treatments works best, therefore it’s important to educate your patients on all available resources to help them along their quit journey. 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