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Smilow Tobacco Treatment Program

Quitting tobacco is difficult. In the tobacco treatment program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, we offer quitting strategies that combine counseling and drug treatment to help patients reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, cope with cravings, and break the cycle of tobacco use. Our program includes a multidisciplinary team of advanced nurse practitioners, psychologists, physicians, and research staff. We tailor treatment to each patient’s situation and tobacco use history.

It is critical that cancer patients quit smoking after initial diagnosis. Quitting has been shown to improve response to cancer treatments such as therapeutic radiology, chemotherapy, and surgery; decrease the likelihood of second malignancies; and increase rates of survival.

In general, the immediate health benefits of stopping tobacco use include:

  • Increased blood oxygen levels
  • Decreased heart rate, blood pressure, chance of heart attack

The long-term benefits include:

  • Increased lung health, fertility, and health of skin, teeth, and gums
  • Decreased risk for lung and other kinds of cancer, as well as for heart disease

Our Approach

The Tobacco Treatment Program operates on the principles of the U.S. Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guidelines. Our treatment strategies may include safe, effective FDA-approved medications such as nicotine replacement (patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler or nasal spray), bupropion (Zyban), and varenicline (Chantix).

In addition, we provide individual counseling to help patients learn other ways to manage stress and improve mood, as well as develop new and healthy daily routines.

Tobacco products are rapidly changing with the advent of new technology. E-cigarettes heat a liquid with nicotine and other chemicals in it. They are likely less harmful than cigarettes, but they are not harmless. The inhaled vapor contains toxic chemicals including cancer-causing agents and tiny particles that can enter the lungs. E-cigarettes also contain nicotine, which is what makes tobacco addictive. Any plans to use e-cigarettes to quit tobacco should also include a plan for weaning from e-cigarettes.

Our program provides treatment for non-English speakers and includes Telehealth video visits. You can also get text support through SmokefreeTXT (Text YALE to 47848).

We focus on helping our patients stop tobacco use–on their timeline–and gain specific skills to prevent or handle “slips” and maintain their long-term goals.