Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
By Donna L. Richardson, LCSW, LCADC, CTTS
New and reliable data sets from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study confirm that about 16 percent of adults in our region smoke cigarettes. Fewer teens and young people in our communities are starting to smoke. The Affordable Care Act promotes treatment for tobacco use in both medical and behavioral health care settings. New diagnostic tools such as lung CT scans are finding nodules and tumors early in the disease process, saving lives which previously could not be saved. As a trainer of tobacco treatment specialists, I see interest in this work from dental professionals, respiratory therapists, nurses, physicians, addiction counselors, family therapists, wellness trainers and others continue to grow. Helping people quit is becoming everybody’s responsibility.
People continue to experience premature death from years of tobacco use. Smoking affects quality of life in very basic ways such as difficulty in climbing stairs and costing money, especially impacting those on fixed incomes. Quit rates for certain groups such as those with chronic mental illness and addiction are not keeping pace. In my work as a tobacco treatment specialist, I often hear patients say that they wish they had never started smoking.
Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices are popular with young people and with those desperate to quit smoking. For instance, hookah smoking has become a rite of passage on many college campuses. As evidenced by an increase in cases by certain populations who seek assistance through the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program, use of smokeless tobacco products in specific groups such as those of South Asian background or young male athletes requires more attention. Compared to smoking, consumers, parents, and providers ask: Are electronic cigarettes and vaping devices safe? Will it help smokers to quit? Should I worry? What about exposure to others? What should I tell my patients?
Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program continues to partner with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey to provide free, specialized, individualized, supportive treatment to patients and to promote tobacco cessation treatment, research, and education in the interest of cancer prevention. Truly multi-disciplinary, we collaborate with a range of researchers, students and educators at the Rutgers School of Public Health and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. It’s never too late to quit.
Donna L. Richardson, LCSW, LCADC, CTTS, teams up with Michael Steinberg, MD, MPH, and Claribel Beltrez, BA, at the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program. The program is supported by the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers School of Public Health and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.