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Pediatricians can help parents quit smoking, a new study suggests. The study included 20 pediatric practices, half of which participated in a smoking cessation program. In the participating practices, doctors talked with parents who smoked about various strategies to quit smoking, referred smoking parents to quitlines and offered drug treatment for quitting smoking.

Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that among practices participating in the smoking cessation program, pediatricians offered meaningful smoking cessation assistance to parents about 42 percent of the time, compared with 3.5 percent in practices that did not participate.

The findings appear in the journal Pediatrics.

Within the past year, Nationwide Children’s Hospital began requiring staff members in pediatricians’ offices to ask parents and children who were older than 10 about smoking at every visit, The Columbus Dispatch reports. If a child or parent says there is smoking in the house, pediatricians start a discussion about it, according to David Stukus, study author and co-director of the hospital’s asthma clinic.

“I try my best to discuss it in a nonthreatening and nonjudgmental way,” he told the newspaper. He doesn’t necessarily expect parents to quit because of the discussion, but he does want them to think about ways to reduce their children’s secondhand smoke exposure. He advises parents to never smoke in the house or car. He says that when he asks children whether secondhand smoke bothers them, they invariably say yes. “Sometimes that can be very powerful for parents to hear,” he says. Most parents react positively to the discussion, he adds.

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