INTRODUCTION: To our knowledge, no study has determined whether smoking prevalence is higher among people with disabilities than among people without disabilities across all U.S. states. Neither do we know whether people with disabilities and people without disabilities receive the same quality of advice about tobacco-cessation treatment from medical providers.
METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate differences between people with and people without disabilities in smoking prevalence and the receipt of tobacco-cessation treatment advice from medical providers.
RESULTS: We found that smoking prevalence for people with disabilities was approximately 50% higher than for people without disabilities. Smokers with disabilities were more likely than smokers without disabilities to have visited a medical provider at least once in the previous 12 months and to have received medical advice to quit. More than 40% of smokers with disabilities who were advised to quit, however, reported not being told about the types of tobacco-cessation treatment available.
CONCLUSION: Ensuring that people with disabilities are included in state-based smoking cessation programs gives states an opportunity to eliminate health disparities and to improve the health and wellness of this group. Ways to reduce unmet preventive health care needs of people with disabilities include provider adoption of the Public Health Service’s clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence and the provision of smoking cessation services that include counseling and effective pharmaceutical treatment.