Heart and Vascular

Nuvance Health’s Tobacco Treatment Clinic helps smokers quit

Stephen Burns, NP


Stephen Burns, a nurse practitioner at The Heart Center, found he had a knack, he said, for counseling his cardiac patients when it came to their smoking habits.


After furthering his studies with a tobacco education program at the University of Massachusetts, Burns launched the Tobacco Treatment Clinic in December. 


“I started it because we didn’t really have such a program,” Burns said. “We did have group meetings, but they were long at eight sessions and had poor turnout.”


Now, Burns offers four, one-on-one counseling sessions. The first, he explained, is 45 minutes long and they discuss health and smoking history. The patient also sets a quit date. To get there, Burns said a variety of treatment methods are implemented, including cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy. He also offers phone and text support.


Patients are referred to the Tobacco Treatment Clinic by their physician.


“We use a customized approach to come up with a strategy with the patient that suits their needs,” he said.


Smoking not only affects the lungs but is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD), attributing to approximately one of every four deaths from CVD, according to a 2014 report by the surgeon general on the health consequences of smoking. 


Chemicals found in cigarette smoke cause cells that line blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed. This can narrow the blood vessels and lead to many cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, coronary heart disease and peripheral arterial disease (PAD).


Studies have shown smokers who quit immediately reduce their risk of CVD. Within five years, they reduce their risk of stroke to that of a lifetime nonsmoker.


“Even longtime tobacco users can see cardiovascular health improvements pretty quickly when they quit,” Burns said.


Burns sees patients at The Heart Center locations at 1 Columbia St., Poughkeepsie, and 60 Merritt Blvd, Fishkill. The Heart Center, a division of Hudson Valley Cardiovascular Practice, PC, is a Nuvance Health affiliate.


For more information on the Tobacco Treatment Clinic, call (845) 473-1188 and/or email tobaccotreatment@nuvancehealth.org.