Increasing the Demand for and Use of Effective Smoking-Cessation Treatments

Reaping the Full Health Benefits of Tobacco-Control Science and Policy Gains—In Our Lifetime


      More adults in the United States have quit smoking than remain current smokers. But 45 million adults (20.9%) continue to smoke, with highest rates among low socioeconomic status (SES), blue-collar, and Native American populations. More than two thirds (70%) of adult smokers want to quit, and approximately 40% make a serious quit attempt each year, but only 20%–30% of quitters use an effective behavioral counseling or pharmacologic treatment. The lowest rates of treatment use are seen in the populations with the highest rates of tobacco use. Fully harvesting the last 4 decades of progress in tobacco-control science and policy to increase smokers’ demand for and use of cessation treatments represents an extraordinary opportunity to extend lives and reduce healthcare costs and burden in the next 30–40 years. This paper uses the “push–pull capacity” model as a framework for illustrating strategies to achieve this goal. This model recommends: (1) improving and communicating effective treatments for wide population use; (2) building the capacity of healthcare and other systems to deliver effective treatments; and (3) boosting consumer, health plan, and insurer demand for them through policy interventions shown to motivate and support quitting (e.g., clean indoor-air laws, tobacco tax increases, expanded insurance coverage/reimbursement) and efforts to improve treatment access and appeal, especially for smokers who use them least. Innovations recommended by the National Consumer Demand Roundtable for achieving “breakthrough” improvements in cessation treatment demand and use are described.
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