Little Help for Boozers and Smokers

Many are not getting advice from their doctors

THURSDAY, Jan. 9, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Millions of American smokers and binge drinkers aren't getting advice from their doctors on quitting smoking or controlling their drinking.

That admonishment comes from a new study in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated that about 2 million smokers and 2 million binge drinkers in 10 states who saw their doctors for routine checkups in 1996-97 didn't get any advice from their doctors on quitting smoking or reducing their alcohol consumption.

The researchers analyzed data from a 10-state random telephone survey. Of the 4,857 survey respondents who had a routine checkup in the year before the survey, 70 percent of the smokers said their doctors advised them to quit. But only 23 percent of the binge drinkers in the survey said their doctors talked about alcohol use with them.

Using the survey data, the researchers estimated that 1.915 million smokers and 2.269 million binge drinkers in those 10 states didn't receive any kind of intervention from a health professional.

The study found that women and older people were more likely to be advised by their doctors to quit smoking, while men and black binge drinkers were more likely to get advice from a doctor on how to control their alcohol use.

The researchers aren't certain why smokers seem to receive more attention from doctors. However, they note that doctors may worry more about smoking-related health effects and feel they can suggest clear-cut goals to smokers.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the dangers of smoking and drinking.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Jan. 2, 2003
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