Tobacco use and smoking cessation practices among physicians in developing countries: A literature review (1987-2010)

Abu S. Abdullah, Frances A. Stillman, Li Yang, Hongye Luo, Zhiyong Zhang, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Physicians have a key role to play in combating tobacco use and reducing the tobacco induced harm to health. However, there is a paucity of information about tobacco-use and cessation among physicians in developing countries. To assess the need for and nature of smoking cessation services among physicians in developing countries, a detailed literature review of studies published in English, between 1987 and 2010 was carried out. The electronic databases Medline and Pub Med were searched for published studies. The findings show that there are regional variations in the current smoking prevalence, quitting intentions, and cessation services among physicians. Smoking prevalence (median) was highest in Central/Eastern Europe (37%), followed by Africa (29%), Central and South America (25%) and Asia (17.5%). There were significant gender differences in smoking prevalence across studies, with higher prevalence among males than females. Smoking at work or in front of patients was commonly practiced by physicians in some countries. Asking about smoking status or advising patients to quit smoking was not common practice among the physicians, especially among smoker physicians. Organized smoking cessation programs for physicians did not exist in all of these regions. This review suggests that while smoking of physicians varies across different developing regions; prevalence rates tend to be higher than among physicians in developed countries. Quitting rates were low among the physicians, and the delivery of advice on quitting smoking was not common across the studies. To promote tobacco control and increase cessation in populations, there is a need to build physicians' capacity so that they can engage in tobacco use prevention and cessation activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-455
Number of pages27
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 30 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Developing countries
  • Physicians
  • Review literature
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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