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Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, and quitting is the single best thing tobacco users can do to improve their health. This is resoundingly reaffirmed by the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Smoking Cessation, released January 23. In fact, this landmark report shows the compelling evidence that quitting tobacco—at any age—can lead to positive health outcomes.

At the American Lung Association, we have long recognized the importance of quitting and are proud of our 40 years of nationwide leadership in helping people end their addiction for good. The current youth vaping epidemic could set the stage for another generation of Americans addicted to tobacco products and ultimately more tobacco-caused death and disease. This makes the role of quitting even more important.

We welcome this important report, which is the first report by “America's Doctor” to focus on tobacco cessation in 30 years. Some of its key findings include:

  • People are more successful when they get help quitting, using FDA approved quit smoking medications and with counseling.
  • Even if you already have a disease caused by tobacco use, you can still improve your health by quitting. Smoking cessation reduces the risk of premature death and can add up to a decade in life expectancy.
  • Insurance coverage for smoking cessation that is comprehensive, barrier-free and widely promoted increases the use of these treatments, leads to higher rates of quitting and is cost effective.
  • Enacting policies, such as those found in the Lung Association's “State of Tobacco Control” report—increasing the price of cigarettes, adopting smokefree air policies, maintaining comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs, requiring graphic warning labels and implementing mass media campaigns—are proven to increase cessation rates. 

Tools to Help People Quit

Working to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases, the Lung Association supports a comprehensive approach to cessation that includes a combination of behavioral counseling plus FDA-approved medications. This approach is proven to be most effective in helping people quit and stay tobacco-free for good. The Lung Association offers a full suite of proven cessation resources and programs tailored to meet the specific needs of both adults and today's youth.

For adults who want to quit, our Freedom From Smoking® program offers the choice of four different formats, including in-person group classes through a Freedom From Smoking Clinic, online through Freedom From Smoking Plus, telephone support through the Lung Association's Lung HelpLine and our Freedom From Smoking Self-Help Guide

To help youth wanting to quit tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, we encourage schools and communities to learn more about implementing our teen-focused cessation program Not On Tobacco (N-O-T). Through this evidence-based program, trained adult N-O-T facilitators help teens overcome their addiction to nicotine using those methods proven to work best for youth.

The Lung Association's Lung HelpLine, is staffed by experienced and knowledgeable registered nurses, respiratory therapists and certified tobacco treatment specialists who are ready to answer questions and provide support for adults or teens who want to quit tobacco use. The Lung Helpline is free and offers a live language interpretation services for over 250 languages.  Services include education, coaching and counseling on a range of lung health and disease topics, and connection to local and online resources for support.

In addition to enrolling in a behavioral counseling program, like Freedom From Smoking or N-O-T, participants are encouraged to talk with their physician about FDA-approved cessation medications available to further address the physical challenges associated with quitting.

Policies to Help People Quit

It's not only important to have tobacco cessation treatments that are proven safe and effective to help the millions of Americans who want to quit, it's just as important to make sure that the people who are addicted to tobacco have barrier-free access to these treatments. The American Lung Association serves as a leader in the effort to improve tobacco cessation coverage in health programs across the country, including Medicaid.

Since 2008, the Lung Association has collected comprehensive tobacco cessation coverage data for state Medicaid programs. In fact, these data are such an important snapshot of coverage that they are used as the source for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Healthy People 2020 goal.

The Lung Association continues to work with states to improve coverage of tobacco cessation treatment through the 6|18 Initiative and cooperative agreements with CDC. Coverage of cessation treatment in state Medicaid programs has improved since these data were first collected. As a result of the Lung Association's work in removing barriers to access, all states now cover at least some treatment for all Medicaid enrollees and 12 states provide a comprehensive cessation benefit to all Medicaid enrollees.

We're Here for You

For 40 years and counting, the American Lung Association has been America's trusted leader in helping people understand the dangers of tobacco use and effective strategies to quit for good. This historic Surgeon General's report affirms the importance of that responsibility. We're here for you and ready to help you begin your healthier, tobacco-free life!

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