Carbon monoxide, cigarettes and family doctors

G. Invernizzi, G. Bettoncelli, G. D'Ambrosio, M. Zappa, M. Calzolari, P. Paredi, R. Mazza, E. Soresi, R. Boffi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: General practitioners could play a key role in preventive programs against tobacco-related diseases. However, they seldom take action in the office even with minimal advice counselling. Such behaviour might reflect the lack of academic teaching and the lack of practice with motivational and dependence questionnaires, considered basic tools to help smokers to quit successfully. The study was aimed to investigate the awareness of a sample of Italian family doctors as regards tobacco epidemiology and smoking cessation strategies. Methods: A total of 428 family doctors were administered a questionnaire with a set of questions on their personal smoking habits and on personal initiatives in the office towards smokers. Another set of questions regarded their knowledge on tobacco issues, with special attention to carbon monoxide, which is widely perceived as a very dangerous poison and works as a motivational tool on smokers and adolescents. Carbon monoxide measurement was carried out on all participants to obtain objective data on smoking and to show the feasibility of the test. Results: The percentage of self-reported current smokers among general practitioners was 24%, with a high prevalence of ex-smokers (46%), and 29% of never smokers. Family doctors were more keen to counsel adolescents than adults about tobacco, and they were very interested in continuing medical education on the issue. The doctors who took part in our study showed a surprising limited knowledge of all the issues associated with smoking cessation and prevention such as epidemiology, cigarette characteristics, success rate of smoking cessation programs, Fagerström's tolerance questionnaire, safety of nicotine replacement therapy and the knowledge of carbon monoxide as a product of cigarette smoke. Conclusions: The scenario depicted by our survey underscores the necessity to improve the knowledge and performance of primary care physicians on tobacco-related issues in order to implement primary and secondary prevention in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-119
Number of pages3
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Family doctors
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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