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Hospitalization seems a favorable setting to quit smoking. The purpose of this study was to determine the smoking habits and teachable moments among hospitalized patients admitted to the internal medicine department. A prospective study involving 253 patients admitted to an academic teaching hospital was conducted. The rate of current smokers ranged from 75% in the group of 30 to 39-year-old male patients to 0% in female patients 80 years and older; mean prevalence 34%. Although males had a higher prevalence of smoking in the younger population, the number of current smokers between the genders nearly converged in patients greater or equal to 50 years of age. Among the internal subspecialties, it was highest in patients admitted for pulmonary disease. The number of patients that quit smoking before discharge was similar between both genders, but significantly different among the age-groups and subspecialties. The fraction of quitters was greater in patients 50 years and older, compared to patients less than 50 years (35% vs. 11%, respectively), and in patients admitted for pulmonary disease, compared to all other patients (33% vs. 12%, respectively). In summary, smoking habits among inpatients are very heterogenous, depending on age, gender, and medical reason for admission. Highest prevalences are found in young, male patients, as well as patients admitted for pulmonary disease. On the other hand, the rate of quitters is significantly greater in patients 50 years and older, and patients admitted for pulmonary disease. Besides targeting our efforts at those who are susceptible to the effects, within the scope of secondary and tertiary prevention of many chronic pulmonary and cardiac diseases, it might be favorable and most efficient to focus on the young, middle-aged patients in tailoring specific support, especially in respiratory medicine.
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