Colorado Health Department Partners with Safeway to Implement 'Ask, Advise, Refer' Smoking Cessation Program

January 15, 2015|9:01 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Starting this month, Safeway pharmacists in Colorado will ask customers about their tobacco use and refer them to the Colorado QuitLine if they are ready to quit smoking.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) partnered with Safeway to implement an "Ask, Advise, Refer" program at the company's 100 Colorado pharmacies. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will ask each customer about his or her tobacco use, advise smokers to quit, and refer them to the stop-smoking resources available through the Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

"The Colorado QuitLine has a proven track record of helping people quit smoking for good, and pharmacists can play an important role in connecting individuals to this resource," said CDPHE Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Larry Wolk in a press release. "We thank Safeway for its commitment to the community and the health of its customers."

Safeway is the first community pharmacy chain to incorporate an organization-wide initiative to include brief smoking cessation interventions as a routine component of patient care.

In 2013, Safeway partnered with the University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy and the California Smokers' Helpline to conduct a research study on community-pharmacy-based smoking cessation services in 20 pharmacies before rolling out the resulting program nationwide. The company is emphasizing smoking cessation as part of an expansion of its scope of services offered to patients struggling with behavioral health conditions, addiction or recovery, HIV, and diabetes.

The Colorado Quitline is a free online and telephone resource for Colorado residents ages 15 years and older who are ready to quit smoking. The QuitLine provides trained coaches for counseling and follow-up; stop-smoking tips and resources; and free nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges to those who are medically eligible. In 2014, the Colorado QuitLine served its 300,000th caller.

For more information, see the press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. See also an announcement from the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco.