Smoking Cessation Plans Work, but Not Accessed

By Ault, Alicia | Clinical Psychiatry News, August 2006 | Go to article overview

Smoking Cessation Plans Work, but Not Accessed


Ault, Alicia, Clinical Psychiatry News


BETHESDA, MD. -- Tobacco cessation programs that employ telephone quit lines and counseling and nicotine replacement therapy are highly effective, and they should be offered to more smokers and users of smokeless tobacco, according to a panel of physicians, other health care providers, and community advocates at a conference on the prevention, cessation, and control of tobacco use sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The 14-member panel was charged with issuing a consensus statement on the state of the science after sifting through the available evidence and listening to several days of presentations from the public. The NIH committee found ample evidence that tobacco-related illnesses are a huge burden in the United States--leading to 440,000 deaths each year--and also that there are many successful strategies for preventing use or helping people quit. But there are huge and numerous barriers blocking tobacco users from taking advantage of prevention and cessation programs, the committee added.

Of the 44.5 million adult smokers in the United States, 77% would like to quit, and 40% make an attempt in any given year, according to the panel. But only 5% succeed, mostly because those attempting to quit cannot access effective treatments.

"To increase demand for treatments, we must motivate smokers to want them, expect them, and use them," said Dr. David F. Ransohoff of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and chairman of the NIH panel, in a statement.

One of the biggest challenges is stopping people from starting. The data show that most smokers begin in adolescence. Effective strategies to keep children from picking up the habit include raising taxes to increase cigarette prices, passing--and then enforcing--laws to prohibit minors' access to tobacco, and creating smoke-free zones, said the panel. Restricting tobacco ads and promotion and disseminating antitobacco mass media campaigns also work, the committee said. …

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