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University of Arizona to Help Tobacco Users Quit Smoking

The University of Arizona’s Cancer Center is working on a long-term program to help tobacco users quit smoking.

Supported by a grant of $767,500 from the National Cancer Institute Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the center is rolling out a sustainable program in collaboration with other comprehensive cancer centers. The team of experts from the university will first standardize data on the use of tobacco by patients as compiled in electronic health records.

“It’s not that we’re not asking about tobacco usage, it’s that it’s not easy to find that information,” said Tracy Crane, project’s lead investigator. “It’s difficult to find tobacco-use history, as it may be documented in different places in a patient’s record. We need to standardize how and when we ask, and refer to tobacco-cessation services when a patient reports tobacco use.”

After standardizing patients data, the center will put together a team of specialists who are experts in the treatment of tobacco patients and will also train staff in handling such cases.

Patients will have access to different facilities aimed at supplementing the efforts of quitting tobacco use, which includes counseling and cessation.

“It’s shocking that something with such a clear evidence base is not integrated into care. If I went out on the street and asked the average person, ‘Do you think cancer centers provide patients who smoke support to quit?’ Most of us would say, ‘Absolutely! That’s a no-brainer!’” said Cynthia Thomson, co-leader of the UA Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program

“We have commitment from both the UA as well as Banner to support this new programming and make sure we are in a very different place a year from now.”

Started in September, the center aims to complete the program within the next two years, before the expiry of the grant.

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