Background Accredited US hospitals prohibit smoking inside hospital buildings. Patients are expected to abstain from smoking throughout their hospitalization, but how many do so is unclear. Smoking by inpatients may compromise patient safety, clinical outcomes, and hospital efficiency.
Methods We conducted an observational study of adult cigarette smokers visited by a tobacco counselor while hospitalized and reached for telephone follow-up in the 2 weeks after discharge. We assessed smoking during the hospital stay at the time of counseling for all patients and at follow-up for those reached. We used generalized linear models to estimate adjusted relative risk (ARR) for smoking while hospitalized, adjusted by patient and admission characteristics.
Results From May 1, 2007, through April 31, 2010, counselors visited 5399 smokers, of whom 14.9% had smoked between admission and the visit. Of 3555 eligible smokers who consented to follow-up, 2185 were reached. Smoking at any time during the hospitalization was reported by 18.4%, less often during winter months than the rest of the year (14.4% vs 19.7%, P = .007). Smoking at any time while hospitalized was less common among those 50 years or older (ARR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.62-0.88), those admitted to a cardiac unit (0.64; 0.51-0.81), and those intending to quit after discharge (0.46; 0.34-0.63) and more common among those with longer stays (1.36; 1.14-1.62) and those experiencing cigarette cravings (moderate: 1.23; 1.14-1.33; severe: 1.25; 1.18-1.34). Nicotine replacement therapy ordered the day of admission was associated with less smoking before the counselor's visit (ARR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.72-0.96) but not for the entire hospital stay.
Conclusions Nearly one-fifth of smokers admitted to a smoke-free hospital smoked during their hospital stay. Ordering nicotine replacement therapy routinely at admission and ongoing monitoring of patients' cigarette cravings might reduce smoking among admitted patients.