Smoking by health care professionals poses a barrier to interventions with patients. This study reports smoking status changes among health care professionals using the Tobacco Use Supplement-Current Population Surveys (TUS-CPS).
TUS-CPS self-reported smoking status (current, former, and never) identified by occupation (physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses [RNs], licensed practical nurses [LPNs], respiratory therapists, dentists, and dental hygienists), were analyzed for the 2003 (N = 4,095) and 2006/2007 (N = 3,976) cohorts. Quit ratios among U.S. health care professionals were calculated by dividing the number of former smokers by the number of ever-smokers using weighted estimates.
In 2006/2007, LPNs (20.55%) and respiratory therapists (19.28%) had the highest smoking prevalence. Physicians (2.31%), dentists (3.01%), pharmacists (3.25%), and RNs (10.73%) had the lowest prevalence. Data from 2006/2007 indicate that physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and physician assistants had the highest quit ratios; all groups had quit ratios higher than the general public, except LPNs (.52 vs. .46, respectively). Current smoking varied by group but did not significantly decline from 2003 to 2006/2007. The majority of health care professionals were never-smokers.
These data indicate that only 4 health care professional groups met the Healthy People 2010 goal of 12% smoking prevalence. LPNs were the only group with quit ratios lower than the general population. The lack of significant decline in smoking rates among health professionals was similar to the “flat” rate seen among adults in the United States. This is of concern as smoking among health care professionals limits their interventions with smokers and their involvement in tobacco control.