A UCLA School of Nursing professor is leading a six-month planning grant to develop a program to help nurses quit smoking and to involve nurses in tobacco-control advocacy efforts.
With nearly $400,000 in funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Linda Sarna, professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, and Stella Aguinaga Bialous, a nurse who is a tobacco-control consultant in San Francisco, are spearheading the development of a multi-faceted national campaign aimed at the countryâ€™s largest group of health professionals â€” a group that has a surprisingly high rate of smoking.
â€œNurses have a tremendous opportunity to assist in tobacco control efforts,â€? Sarna said. â€œHowever, smoking by nurses limits their ability to be strong advocates of tobacco control, including engaging in cessation efforts with their patients.â€?
Sarna notes that one barrier to conducting smoking-cessation interventions with patients is nurses who themselves continue to smoke â€” at an estimated 18 percent, the highest percentage among health professionals.
According to Sarna, in addition to individual nurses who smoke, the nursing profession as a whole has not embraced the tobacco control movement.
The campaign will focus both on helping nurses to quit smoking and on developing strategies to help the nursing profession become more involved in tobacco-control advocacy efforts.
â€œIn the past, there has been no coordinated effort to support nurses in their own cessation efforts or to stress the critical importance of being smoke-free role models,â€? Sarna said. â€œDuring this planning grant, we will work with a variety of nursing organizations and with tobacco-control experts to develop a nationwide campaign that will provide nurses who smoke with cessation resources.â€?
This effort recognizes the enormous potential of nurses in battling this epidemic.
Despite progress in reducing the prevalence of tobacco use, in 1999 there were still 46.5 million adults in the United States who were smokers â€” 26 percent of men and 22 percent of women â€” and smoking continues to be a major cause of illness, disability and premature death in this country.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nationâ€™s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grant-making in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social, and economic harm caused by substance abuse â€” tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.