Help Your Doctor Help You

Even getting brief advice from your doctor can help you quit. Your doctor can give you quick and correct information that’s right for your needs and that can help you quit for good. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my doctor help me quit?

Yes. Your doctor can give you information that can help you become twice as likely to quit for good, including:

  • Telling you about the harms of smoking and the benefits of quitting
  • Getting your smoking history and finding out about your addiction to nicotine
  • Looking for and treating smoking-related diseases
  • Advising you to quit or, at least, cut down whenever s/he sees you
  • Helping to create a quit plan and set a quit date
  • Providing you with brief, motivational sessions to help you deal with those moments when you really want to smoke and knowing what triggers those cravings.
  • Referring you to an in-person or telephone-based quit coach
  • Giving you medications that will be covered by your insurance and, if needed, getting special permission (prior authorization) from your insurance company for a medication that is usually not covered

Does my doctor care about helping me quit?

Most people would agree that visits to the doctor can be hard. There is so little time and so many important things to do. However, smoking is the behavior that threatens your health the most and is the cause of so many other problems, such as asthma, emphysema, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Doctors want to help patients quit smoking but may sometimes forget to ask about it or may feel like you are not ready to quit based on prior conversations. See below on what to tell and ask your doctor.

What should I tell my doctor?

You should make sure to tell your doctor about your smoking habits at every visit by talking about:

  • How ready you are to make a quit attempt: not at all, possibly, definitely
  • How much you’re smoking currently, how long you’ve been smoking, and how much you smoked previously
  • What makes you want to smoke, such as: drinking coffee or alcohol, hanging out with friends, dealing with stress, etc.
  • Your past attempts at quitting, what help you used (if any), how long you went without smoking, and what made you start again

What should I ask my doctor?

The best medical decisions are made when doctors and patients work together. After providing your doctor all the information you can about your smoking habits, make sure to ask your doctor the following:

  • Do you think I’m ready to make a quit attempt?
  • Can you help me set a quit date?
  • What type of help, if any, should I use to quit? Quit coach? Medications? Both?
  • Are there ways for me to get free quit coaching in my neighborhood? By phone? Online?
  • What are the pros and cons of different types of nicotine replacement therapy?
  • Are pills—like Buproprion (Zyban) and Varenicline (Chantix)—potentially helpful for me?
  • Are any of these medications covered by my insurance?
  • I heard that some insurance companies—including Medical Assistance—will pay for over-the-counter medications. Can you find out if my insurance will do so?
  • What side effects should I watch out for?
  • What can my friends and family do to help me quit?
  • How can I handle my cravings?
  • What else can I do when I’m stressed? Out with friends?
  • How can I avoid gaining weight after quitting?




Get Healthy Philly is a project of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and is made possible, in part, by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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