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UCLA study reveals smoking's effect on nurses' health, death rates
Date:11/13/2008

na said. "Death rates among former smokers that age were 1.5 times higher than those of non-smokers, while current smokers were 2.3 times more likely to have died by that age than nurses who never smoked."

According to the most recent data, the smoking rate among registered nurses nationwide is nearly 12 percent.

The rate of smoking among women in the Nurses' Health Study declined from 33.2 percent in 1976 to 8.4 percent in 2003. The number of cigarettes smoked per day also dropped. However, the daily number among current smokers still averaged more than 15 cigarettes, or over half a pack.

"When the Nurses' Health Study began in 1976, nursing education gave limited attention to smoking's effect on health. Today, the amount of time devoted to tobacco cessation in the curriculum remains inadequate," Sarna said.

"Nurses in the study demonstrated behavior patterns similar to women in the general population," she added. "For example, the younger nurses in the study began smoking before entering the profession, a pattern reflected by American women starting smoking at younger ages in general. Being a nurse did not make these women immune to nicotine addiction."

Although data from the Nurses' Health Study has been used by the U.S. Surgeon General, researchers and health care providers to craft health policy, the findings have rarely been directed to the nursing community itself.

"It is encouraging to see that fewer and fewer nurses are smoking, but we can't declare the problem solved," said Michelle Larkin, senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the UCLA team's research. "The devastating effects of smoking are all too real for those nurses who still smoke. We need research to learn about the factors that lead them to smoke and more resources to help them quit."


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Contact: Elaine Schmidt
eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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