Help Your Patients Quit

Cessation tips and resources

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in our state, killing more than 5,000 Coloradans per year. As healthcare providers, you play a key role in changing that. Patients care about the medical advice they get from doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. It may seem daunting to talk to a patient about their smoking, but it makes a big difference. This page has the resources you need to help your patients quit smoking.

These are the top 5 things you can do to help patients quit smoking:

1. Provide a brief clinical intervention.

It works in every setting and it may only take a few minutes. Ask every patient about tobacco use — every time. If they smoke, advise them to quit. Personalize your message. Explain how patients’ health conditions can be linked to smoking. If they express interest, refer them to the right resources to help them quit successfully, such as the Colorado QuitLine. Learn more about Ask, Advise, Refer. Free brochures and posters are also available to order for free. These can be used as “conversation starters” when counseling patients.

2. If your patient uses tobacco, counsel them about it.

Smokers often feel ostracized. They’ve likely already tried quitting, on average seven to 10 times. Most smokers want to quit. And so many of them fail that you should consider relapse to be a completely normal part of the process. A smoker’s reasons for being unable to quit are often very personal. There are resources that can help you talk to patients in a way that is encouraging, helpful and productive. To learn more, take this free online training from the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center on motivational interviewing. CE/CMEs are available for this training.

3. Refer patients ready to quit, or thinking about quitting, to the QuitLine for free, effective coaching and quit-smoking medications.

It’s most impactful to give patients a warm handoff to the QuitLine, rather than giving them the number to call themselves. Referring patients also provides benefits, like the ability to receive reports from the QuitLine on on patient progress.You can directly refer patients to the QuitLine using:

In light of the high rates of youth vaping, the Colorado QuitLine’s web, text and phone programs are now available to those as young as 12. New web features and tobacco treatment specialists make quit support free and accessible for youth.

4. Learn more about FDA-approved medications to help people quit.

There are nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), pharmaceuticals and other quit therapies that can help smokers deal with cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Using these products can double to triple a smoker’s chances of successfully quitting.

The Colorado QuitLine offers free NRT to all Coloradans, such as the nicotine patch and nicotine gum.

5. Connect smokers to quit-smoking benefits

Smokers covered under Health First Colorado (Medicaid) get free quit-smoking benefits, including counseling and medication with no copay. Review details of treatment plans, CPT billing codes, medications and more with the provider at a glance benefit card, detailed provider fact sheet and the one-page benefit chart. Learn more about tobacco cessation through HCPF.


Get provider guides on the Colorado QuitLine, to support pregnant patients who use tobacco or vape or patients who use smokeless (chew) tobacco.

If you have patients who are pregnant and struggling to quit, there are special resources to help. BABY & ME –Tobacco Free Program TM helps expecting moms be healthier for themselves and their baby.

Vaping has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Learn more about what you can do to address vaping as a health care provider. Learn more about vaping, generally.

My Life, My Quit is a free tobacco treatment program created specifically with young people in mind. My Life, My Quit offers 24/7 coaching support by text, web, and phone, to reach youth where they are and provide an easy-to-use, non-judgmental experience. Youth ages 12-17 can text “Start my quit” to 36072 to connect with a coach or receive quit tips.

Want to learn more about what tobacco products people are using in your area? Check out VISION, Colorado’s data clearinghouse on public health issues.

Expand your knowledge by taking some courses for CEs or CMEs. The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center and American Association of Family Physicians offer free, online tobacco cessation trainings.