According to a new poll, doctors in western Kentucky don’t ask their patients who are smokers if they would like to kick the habit as often as other physicians in the Commonwealth.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s Health Issues Poll found 58 percent of all Kentucky smokers were asked by their doctor if they would like information on quitting. The foundation’s President Susan Zepeda says in western Kentucky the amount dropped to 45 percent.
“For many people, they take their doctor’s advice to heart, and if your doctor or your caregiver is not even raising the question of whether you smoke and how much you smoke and whether you should be trying ways to stop then it’s just one more opportunity that’s been missed in helping people move from being smokers to non-smokers,” she said.
The survey polled more than 1,500 people and asked smokers if any health care provider, not just family physicians, had offered help.
Paducah ear, nose and throat doctor Shawn Jones says the poll’s numbers could be low because physicians are focused on solving patients’ immediate concerns or they don’t remember being asked. But he says doctors should ask smokers about quitting every visit.
“For sure there are obviously people who are not getting that issue addressed by physicians and it needs to be addressed at every visit because, particularly in Kentucky, we’re No. 1 in lung cancer death rate. We’re No. 1 in lung cancer incidents. We have the highest incidence of smoking in the United States,” Jones said. “It’s an issue that is culturally and from a health standpoint a very big problem for Kentucky.”
Jones says while people should take personal responsibility to quit smoking, studies have found people are more likely to quit if prompted by their physician.
Jones was a proponent of the Paducah smoking ban. The poll also found a steady increase of people in support of a statewide smoking band, with 65 percent of Kentuckians showing their support.