(HealthDay News) – About 18% of smokers report lighting up during a hospitalization, despite the smoke-free status of the hospital.

Susan Regan, PhD, from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted an observational study of adult cigarette smokers in which smokers were visited by a tobacco counselor while hospitalized and contacted by telephone for follow-up during the two weeks after discharge.

The researchers found that, over the three-year study, counselors visited 5,399 smokers, of whom 14.9% had smoked between admission and the visit. Follow-up was conducted on 2,185 smokers. Smoking at some time during hospitalization was reported by 18.4%, but was reported significantly less often during winter months than the rest of the year (14.4 vs. 19.7%). Smoking during hospitalization was less common among those >50 years (adjusted relative risk [ARR], 0.74), those admitted to a cardiac unit (ARR, 0.64), and those intending to quit after discharge (ARR, 0.46). Smoking during hospitalization was more common among those with longer stays (ARR, 1.36) and those experiencing cigarette cravings (moderate cravings: ARR, 1.23; severe cravings: ARR, 1.25).

“Nearly one-fifth of smokers admitted to a smoke-free hospital smoked during their hospital stay,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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