Tobacco Cessation

Effective tobacco cessation policies help smokers quit smoking, and stay quit. Evidence has shown that population-based policies, including raising the price of tobacco products through taxes or implementing smoke-free laws in workplaces, have increased quit attempts and led to a decline in smoking prevalence. Other useful cessation strategies are individualized evidence-based cessation treatments, including nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches, gum, inhalers, nasal spray, and lozenges. Cost, however, is a significant barrier to treatment access, and most private and public health plans lack comprehensive coverage for tobacco cessation services. 

In the November 1998 multi-state Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), states pledged to dedicate a significant portion of settlement funds towards tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The MSA, however, did not specify funds for smoking cessation programs or require settling states to spend funds for this use. Only three states currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the minimum recommended level as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many states also face difficulties when determining how to prioritize these funds between population-based and individual level approaches to prevention and cessation.

On the global front, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has developed policy and regulatory strategies to address tobacco’s global health epidemic. Parties to this treaty agreed in Article 14 to take measures to promote tobacco cessation, including developing and implementing effective cessation programs and integrating tobacco cessation services in national health programs.

The risks of nicotine dependence and the health benefits of tobacco cessation treatments have been endlessly documented in medical studies, Surgeon General Reports, and in legal documents, such as the historic Final Opinion in U.S. v. Philip Morris. Despite ample evidence supporting the need for tobacco prevention programs around the U.S., including the CDC’s recommendations to the states for funding and implementing comprehensive tobacco control programs, states are continuing to cut funding for tobacco prevention programs at an alarming rate. 

Public health law and policy experts across the country are engaged in efforts to increase access to tobacco cessation services. This section contains policy-related tobacco cessation resources, including select research and litigation.