Advancing The Profession of Pharmacy

Enhanced Clinical Services Series: Smoking Cessation Programs

by | Feb 18, 2017 | Consulting Pharmacist Education

I want to thank DeArcy Vaughan for sharing about her experience building a smoking cessation program.

DeArcy Vaughan, PharmD, MBA, BCACP, CDE, CTTS is currently a Manager of Clinical Pharmacy in Risk, Quality, Network Solutions for United Health Group/ Optum Insight in Jacksonville, Florida.  She is a subject matter expert in medication adherence.  She advises providers on how to create systems within their practice to improve patient adherence and to maximize their STAR quality ratings in the medication adherence metrics.

DeArcy worked for many years as a Health Systems Pharmacy Manager with Walgreens at Family Care Partners- Northside.  There she ran the tobacco cessation program and facilitated diabetes classes for the ACO.  She is a past-president of the Duval County Pharmacy Association.

How does a smoking cessation group work?

A smoking cessation group works by group behavioral therapy methodology.  As a pharmacist I serve as a moderator where I facilitate discussion, sharing, challenges and successes of the participants.  We meet for 6 one hour sessions where half the class is devoted to participants sharing their experiences with their quit experiences and half the class goes through a workbook.  The workbook discusses the harmful effects of tobacco, helps participants understand the particular reasons they use tobacco, coping with withdrawl, developing a lifestyle without tobacco, relapse prevention and managing stress, and learning about the recovery process.  Participants also receive free NRT if they like through the program.

Would these services (especially the nicotine replacement services) require special training?

Specialized training in motivational interviewing is especially helpful.  In order to qualify to teach the course you need to take 12 hours of tobacco related CE and an 8 hour course in facilitating the Quit Smoking Now Program,  If you are especially interested in specializing in this area, you can work towards your CTTS (Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist) credential.  In order to obtain the CTTS, you must take a 3 day course and pass an exam.  I took my course at the Florida State University- College of Medicine which was a great program.  Then you must pay a yearly certification fee with the Florida Certification Board and do annual CE.

What is the time commitment and schedule for these services?

As far as a time commitment goes, the class itself is 6 one hour sessions, but you will need to add in preparation time to keep up with ordering supplies and NRT.  Also, you will need to devote some time to help recruit for your classes.  While AHEC helps to recruit for the classes, I found it was very helpful to recruit for classes by talking with my patients in the pharmacy.  Most classes are held on nights and weekends, although some classes may be held during the day if you can find the participants who are available at that time.

Each state may be different, but can you explain how the funding through AHEC works and where it comes from?

AHEC gets its funding to pay facilitators, provide NRT, and supplies for participants through the University of Florida College of Medicine, who receive the funding from tobacco settlement funds from class action lawsuits.  Each state varies on the specifics of how the funding is distributed, but should be similar in process.

What advice would you give to a pharmacist or pharmacy looking to create a smoking cessation program?

The advice I would give a pharmacist looking to implement a new smoking cessation program is to just go ahead and do it!  Often pharmacists will think that they have to spend time to get special training.  While there is training available, you already know most of what you need to know to succeed so go for it!  Also, don’t feel like you have to have all the answers for the patient.  Ask them to come up with some cessation strategies that they think will work for them and then serve as their accountability partner for change.  This works much better than you giving them all the answers.  Finally, never give up on anyone that is struggling with this.  It can take many attempts to quit and you never know when the patient is finally ready to make a permanent change.

I really appreciate DeArcy coming on the blog today and sharing her insight.  I’m also pleased to announce that DeArcy is also one of the speakers I interviewed for the upcoming Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit.

Go to to learn more!

About the Author

Blair Thielemier, PharmD, is a business development consultant specializing in pharmacist-led billing models. She has set the industry standard for virtual pharmacy conferences with the Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit in 2017. She has consulted with national pharmacy organizations, drug wholesalers, point of sale companies, and Fortune 5 health insurers. She has books and online courses available for individuals looking to leverage their pharmacy knowledge into monetized clinical programs at She speaks internationally about trends in leveraging pharmacists to improve value-based care.


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