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Smokers with drug, alcohol or mental disorders are five times as likely to quit smoking if they receive counseling from their primary care physician, a new study finds.

About 40 percent of smokers have a drug, alcohol or mental disorder, Medical News Today reports. These smokers have a more difficult time than other smokers when trying to quit. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles studied 1,356 smokers. They found just 6 percent of smokers with one of these disorders successfully quit without smoking cessation counseling from their doctor, compared with 31.3 percent of those who received counseling.

Among smokers without a drug, alcohol or mental disorder, 10.5 percent quit without counseling, compared with 34.9 percent of those who received counseling. “This study shows that primary care physicians can help smokers with alcohol, drug or mental disorders to successfully quit,” researchers wrote in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.  “These smokers should be targeted for smoking cessation counseling to reduce the health burden of tobacco.”

Lead researcher Dr. Michael Ong said it is often assumed that in smokers with other substance abuse or mental health issues, doctors should address one issue at a time. “But at the end of the day, we showed that smoking cessation counseling is effective in this patient population and should definitely be pursued,” he said.

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