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Tobacco Dependence Deserves Chronic Disease Status

Addicts should get treatment for as long as they need it, researchers suggest

TUESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Tobacco dependence is a chronic disease that deserves the same status as other chronic conditions in order to ensure that effective treatments are made available to those who need them, researchers report in the April 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Michael B. Steinberg, M.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J., and colleagues write that there are safe, effective pharmaceutical and behavioral therapies for tobacco dependence, but little is known about the optimum duration of therapies.

Like diabetes, tobacco dependence is a chronic condition that relies on behavioral change to combat it, and can also potentially exacerbate other diseases. However, unlike diabetes, tobacco dependence is usually not well-covered by insurance, and those who need long-term treatment may not get the insurance coverage they need to cover the costs, the report indicates.

"The prevalence of tobacco use and death rates from smoking are higher than those of other chronic conditions, such as diabetes," the authors write. "Covering both behavioral and pharmacologic measures to assist in smoking cessation will increase the demand for and accessibility to effective treatment options…. Improving the availability of these benefits will expand the number of smokers who utilize treatment and will increase smoking abstinence rates."

Steinberg and a study co-author report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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