Dr. Thaddeus Bell, a family practice physician, discusses smoking cessation methods and changes he's seen as a result of local smoking bans.
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Question: What changes have you seen as a result of local smoking bans? Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Well, I think that people certainly are much more aware of the problems that smoking can cause in public places. I have noticed that families with children are more inclined to go in restaurants and eat together and places that they would not ordinarily go. I particularly have noticed as a consumer that when I go into a restaurant, it is much more pleasant to eat a meal and don't have to worry about inhaling smoke. So, I think that as the public awareness has improved significantly regarding smoking all over the country, I think that the problems that we thought we were going to experience in the beginning with reference to loss of moneys as a result of people not going into restaurants, I think that the owners now are recognizing that they are making it up because now families are going in and eating and so it's not as much of a problem as they thought it was going to be initially. The other thing I like to mention too though is that I think that now that we have better data illustrating that smoking ages people significantly and that we could now point to a lot of medical problems that smoking specifically causes, I think that people are beginning to pay more attention. Question: What are some ways that a person can quit smoking? The successful way to stop smoking is that, number one the physician needs to remain the patient, if he smokes at every visit that he should stop. The data shows that doctors who encourage patients to stop smoking, those patients are more likely to stop. Secondly, there are new medications that are out that have a very, very high success rate and have a very low scientific profile. So, when you have a patient who is made up him mind that he wants to stop and you put in on the correct medication and one that he may be able to afford, I might also mention that there are over-the-counter medications that also effective. The bottom line is that the patient must be highly motivated to stop. Those things in place, then you have a patient who runs the risk, well runs the risk is not a good word, you have a patient who is more likely to discontinue smoking. Question: Is it easy to quite smoking? People who think that they can stop smoking on their own are usually not successful. I do not think that the public understands that negative is a highly addictive substance and that just like other drug additions they need to have supervision and often times they need to be on medications to help them stop.