Before Quitting Smoking, Liver Transplant Patients Should Talk to Their Doctor

hand refusing an offer of a cigarette

While smoking cessation is important for everyone, for liver transplant patients, quitting tobacco is a critical component of preparing yourself for transplant and maintaining your health after transplant. Because health issues are often complex and many liver transplants patients take different kinds of medications, it’s very important to talk with your doctor before starting any smoking cessation product.

According to clinical transplant pharmacist, Erin Ticehurst, Pharm D, there are a variety of tools available to help patients stop smoking. “Some examples of helpful smoking cessation products include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal spray,” said Ticehurst. “There are also non-nicotine options, including prescription Zyban® and Chantix®. But whichever type of smoking cessation product you choose, it’s critical to first talk with the transplant team before taking any of these medications.”

Penn's smoking cessation team

Fortunately, the Penn Lung Center’s Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program offers specialized services to partner with people who want to be free from tobacco use and the toll it can take on a person’s overall health and well being.

“We know from serving thousands of patients that trying to quit tobacco can lead to a cascade of difficult challenges,” explains Frank T. Leone, MD, MS, director of the Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program. “Our patients have shared that facing the challenge of quitting tobacco often brings on sadness, anger and hopelessness. They also explain that breaking the habit can be frustrating and confusing; sometimes even embarrassing and shameful. Many of our patients tell us that they feel trapped between desperately wanting to stop and desperately wanting not to stop.”

Because of the complexity of emotions and habits associated with smoking, the smoking treatment team works hard to understand every patient’s specific needs based on what’s happening right now with their health, family, work and other aspects of their lives.

“One of the most important aspects of the treatment is to help smokers and their families understand how nicotine addiction actually works to make them feel trapped and powerless to change,” said Leone. “Our program is founded on the belief that every smoker has the right to quit comfortably, so our treatment strategies are aggressive with medications that empower people to be successful.”

For more information about safe, over-the-counter smoking cessation aids, contact your transplant coordinator. If you, or someone you know, needs information on how to quit tobacco safely, contact the Penn Smoking Cessation Team at 1-888-PENN-STOP FREE.

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The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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