Hospitalized? Good Time to Quit

Smokers have a hard time going without a cigarette during hospital stays

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Of course, no one can smoke inside hospitals anymore. There are strict policies against it. But, outside the hospital, on the grounds and in designated areas, it's usually still fair game.

A recent study interviewed smoking patients during their hospital stays. One in five smoking inpatients admitted to sneaking outside for a smoke.

Researchers found patients treated with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as smoking cessation drugs, smoked less at the beginning of their hospitalization. These positive results did not often last the entire hospitalization.

"Quit smoking!"

Susan Regan, PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, led an investigation into hospital patients and their smoking habits.

For the study, tobacco counselors paid visits to 5,399 patients, who were smokers, hospitalized at Massachusetts General Hospital between 2007-2010.

The surveys revealed 18 percent of those patients continued to smoke during their hospitalization. During winter months, the rate dropped to 14 percent.

Authors found patients most likely to report smoking while hospitalized were:

  • Younger than 50 years of age
  • Experienced more severe cigarette cravings
  • Did not plan to quit after discharge
  • Had longer stays in the hospital
  • Were not in the cardiac unit

Authors said, “Assessment of cigarette cravings, especially among younger smokers and those who do not plan to quit after discharge, could identify high-risk patients.”

They recommended two ways to reduce inpatient smoking:

  1. Routine order of NRT at admission
  2. Expansion of smoke-free policies to cover the entire hospital campus

“This could improve patient safety, hospital efficiency and clinical outcomes for hospitalized smokers.”

Smoking has serious health consequences for healthy people. Patients admitted into the hospital are at a higher risk for major health complications from smoking.

This study was published in November in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

No funding information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 9, 2012
Last Updated:
November 11, 2012