Executive Office Update: AARC Partners with CDC in 2016

 Published: March 23, 2016

By: AARC Staff

Tom Kallstrom AARC Executive DirectorAbout the author: Thomas J. Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC, is executive director of the AARC.

There are benefits to having partners that share your mission and goals, and while reaching for these goals, there is strength in the number of partners. This is why we were honored when the CDC approached the AARC in late 2015, inviting us to partner with them in their 2016 Tips from Former Smokers (TIPS) campaign. You may be familiar with this campaign, which has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years. As part of this effort in 2016, the AARC will be joining the Allergy and Asthma Network and the COPD Foundation. Respiratory therapists have such an important role in counseling patients and caregivers in smoking cessation efforts. If you want to learn more about this year’s campaign, go to the website.

The TIPS campaign goals are to:

  • Build public awareness of the immediate health damage caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Encourage smokers to quit and make free help available.
  • Encourage smokers not to smoke around others and nonsmokers to protect themselves and their families from exposure to secondhand smoke.

By reaching out to the public with these messages, we hope to see a positive impact. By showing graphic videos and true testimonials of the ravages of smoking, the message is getting across and seems to be making a difference. Looking at the first year of TIPS, the results were very impressive. In fact, according to the CDC, an estimated 6 million nonsmokers talked with family about the dangers of smoking, and an additional 4.7 million nonsmokers recommended cessation services to their friends or family.1

One particular study by McAfee et al2 demonstrated that an estimated 1.64 million Americans tried to quit because of the campaign with an assumed 100,000 expected to quit for good. Another study by Xu et al3 went on to analyze the cost-effectiveness of the 2012 TIPS campaign. Their findings indicated that, based on the number of people estimated to have quit smoking for good (about 100,000 as noted by the McAffee study),  the campaign likely prevented at least 17,000 premature deaths and helped gain about 179,000 years of healthy life. Total campaign costs were $48 million. Breaking this down, TIPS spent approximately:

  • $480 per smoker who quit
  • $2,819 per premature death
  • $393 per year of life saved
  • $268 per year of healthy life gained

The 2016 campaign kicked off on January 25, 2016, and will continue for 20 weeks. Over this time, key messages will focus on these facts:

  • COPD is usually caused by smoking.
  • COPD includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and, in some cases, asthma.
  • How severe your COPD symptoms are depends on how damaged your lungs are. If you keep smoking, the damage will get worse faster than if you stop smoking.
  • Among 15 million U.S. adults with COPD, 39% continue to smoke.
  • Smoking during childhood and teenage years can slow how lungs grow and develop. This can increase the risk of developing COPD in adulthood.
  • Smoking accounts for as many as 8 out of 10 COPD-related deaths.
  • As many as 1 out of 4 Americans with COPD never smoked cigarettes.

Respiratory therapists are at the front of the line providing patient care and self-management education, and we are in a key position to influence our patients and caregivers about the dangers of tobacco use.

Thankfully, this campaign will also be directed to the patients with a diagnosis of asthma. There are some interesting studies that detail the denial factor of patients who arrive to the emergency room with respiratory exacerbation. One study of patients with asthma who smoked (while a bit dated but still pertinent) noted that only 4% of the patients with asthma in the emergency room felt that their admission had anything to do with the fact that they were smokers, even though 50% thought that smoking did worsen their asthma symptoms.4 There can be a substantial sense of denial by smokers/patients we treat for chronic pulmonary disease. Certainly, the RT can play a powerful role in counseling these patients.

In early 2016, the AARC introduced a training module developed specifically for the respiratory therapist called Clinician Training on Tobacco Dependence for Respiratory Therapists.5 As we know, respiratory therapists have a unique opportunity to talk with people in a variety of settings regarding tobacco use. However, many RTs may not be comfortable with the sometimes difficult conversation of tobacco cessation. This course was designed specifically for the respiratory therapist to increase your proficiency and comfort level in having these crucial conversations with patients and caregivers. This course provides the RT with guidance for delivery of personalized, tailored tobacco cessation interventions that can be offered in a variety of environments. The tobacco and smoking cessation training consists of multiple videos focusing on epidemiology of tobacco use, nicotine pharmacology and principles of addiction, nicotine and non-nicotine pharmacotherapy, assisting patients with quitting, motivational interviewing, reimbursement, and systems change. In addition, special situations such as tobacco users who are pregnant, teens who use tobacco, and cardiac patients who use tobacco, are addressed in this program that awards 5.0 CRCE credits. The program addresses the need for tailored, interactive, behaviorally focused video examples to demonstrate appropriate interactions with the tobacco user.

Our efforts will not stop here and I encourage you to join the AARC Tobacco Free Lifestyle Roundtable on AARConnect. There you will be able to network with other RTs with an interest or who are doing smoking cessation teaching. There will also be RT-specific information on the CDC site during the campaign, so I encourage you to frequently go to the site.


1. Center for Disease Control website. Tips from former smokers: Campaign overview. Available at: http://cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/about/campaign-overview.html Accessed January 11, 2016

2. McAfee T, Davis KC, Alexander RL, et al. Effect of the first federally funded U.S. antismoking national media campaign. Lancet 2013;382(9909):2003–2011.

3. Xu X, Alexander RL Jr, Simpson SA, et al. A cost-effectiveness analysis of the first federally funded antismoking campaign. Am J Prev Med 2015;48(3):318–325

4. Silverman RA, Boudreaux ED, Woodruff PG , et al. Cigarette smoking among asthmatic adults presenting to 64 emergency departments. Chest 2003;123(5):1472-1479.

5. AARC. Smoking cessation programs for respiratory therapists. Available at: http://www.aarc.org/education/online-courses/smoking-cessation-training/ Accessed January 11, 2016

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

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