New Study Examines Cigarette Smoking Among Hospitalized Patients with Substance Use Disorders

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Smoking cessation may promote long-term recovery in patients with substance use disorders (SUD). Yet smoking rates remain alarmingly high in this population. A recently published study examined smoking rates among hospitalized patients with SUD at a large safety-net hospital, and then characterized factors associated with smoking behaviors. Researchers analyzed data from all hospital admissions (7/2016-6/2017) and conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 20 hospitalized SUD smokers.


Findings included:

  • Prevalence of cigarette smoking among hospitalized smokers with SUD was three times higher than those without SUD.
  • Qualitative analyses showed that patients perceived that smoking cigarettes was a less serious concern than other substances.
  • Some patients feared that quitting cigarettes could negatively impact their recovery and perceived that clinicians do not prioritize treating tobacco dependence.
  • Almost all patients with heroin use disorder described how cigarette use potentiated their heroin high.
  • Many SUD patients are turning to vaping and e-cigarettes to quit smoking.


The researchers concluded that hospitalized patients with SUD have disproportionately high smoking rates and perceive multiple barriers to quitting cigarettes. Smoking cessation interventions with this population should take into account how patients with SUD perceive smoking-related health risks and how that influences their decision to quit smoking.


Source: Kathuria et al. (2019). Perceived barriers to quitting cigarettes among hospitalized smokers with substance use disorders: A mixed methods study. Addictive Behaviors, Feb 18;95:41-48. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.02.017. [Epub ahead of print]

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