New Smoking Cessation Guideline Confirms that Now is the Time to Quit Smoking

(May 7, 2008)

Washington, DC (May 7, 2008) – Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an update to its 1996 Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline, Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, which contains revised and improved recommendations to providers and clinicians so that they can better assist smokers in quitting.  The guideline also confirms that there has never been a better time for smokers to quit than right now. 

With the release of these new guidelines, smokers can receive improved strategies from physicians and other health care providers to help successfully quit smoking.  The guidelines definitively state that combining FDA-approved pharmacotherapies and counseling is the most effective way for smokers to end addiction to tobacco products.  The Public Health Service also finds that cessation treatments are cost-effective and that providing these treatments through healthcare systems will increase the number of people who seek treatment for smoking, attempt to quit and successfully quit. 

“These new guidelines underscore how important it is for smokers to receive assistance quitting,” said Bernadette Toomey, President and CEO, of the American Lung Association. “The American Lung Association stands ready to help smokers quit through our different smoking cessation programs and resources.”

For more than 25 years, the Lung Association has offered Freedom from Smoking ® – the gold standard in smoking cessation.  Freedom from Smoking ® and its online companion, Freedom from Smoking Online ®, have been proven effective to help smokers quit.  Not-On-Tobacco (N-O-T), which is intended for regular smokers aged 14-19 who want to quit, is the only smoking cessation program of its kind to be named a “Model Program” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Finally, the American Lung Association’s Helpline (1-800-LUNG-USA) is staffed by registered nurses and registered respiratory therapists with extensive experience in helping smokers quit.  All of the American Lung Association’s cessation programs and services utilize the Public Health Services’ guideline.  

The updated guidelines also make clear that recommended treatments for tobacco use should be covered by public and private health benefit plans.  This is particularly true for smokers enrolled in Medicaid, who smoke at rates sixty percent higher than the national average.  Nationwide, 34.8 percent of the Medicaid population smokes – compared to 20.8 percent of the general population – which translates into almost $34 billion annually in Medicaid costs directly attributable to smoking. 

“Federal and state leaders must do their part in helping Medicaid recipients and others disproportionately affected by tobacco use to end their addiction to these deadly products,”  Toomey emphasized.  “Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States – policy change, including cessation coverage for all Medicaid recipients, is urgently needed to end this epidemic.” 

Just yesterday, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a study demonstrating the health benefits to women who quit smoking.  The study found that quitting smoking helps women reduce the risk of heart and lung diseases, lung cancer and other cancers. 

About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to www.lung.org.