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Smoking is vastly undertreated, compared with other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, a new study concludes. Only 4.4 percent of tobacco users were prescribed medication to help them quit smoking from 2005 to 2007, compared with 57.4 percent of people with high blood pressure, 46.2 percent of diabetics and 42.6 percent of people with asthma.

The findings come from a study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine, who analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Their findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

“A compelling argument has been made that tobacco use should be reframed as a chronic disease and treated as other chronic conditions such as diabetes,” lead author Dr. Steven L. Bernstein said in a news release. “Our study suggests that this has not occurred.”

The researchers note that tobacco use is treated at an extremely low rate, even though it is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to HealthCanal. They called for greater insurance coverage for smoking cessation products, and improved training for medical students and residents.

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