Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans every year. For smokers, quitting is the biggest step they can take to improve their health, but it is a difficult step. Fortunately, policy-based interventions can both encourage smokers to quit and help them succeed. Evidence shows that tobacco tax increases encourage smokers to quit-recent state and federal increases have created dramatic surges in calls to quitlines. Similarly, smokefree workplace laws not only protect workers and patrons from secondhand smoke but also encourage smokers to quit, help them succeed, and create a social environment less conducive to smoking. The impact of policy changes can be amplified by promoting quitting around the date they are implemented. Outreach to health practitioners can alert them to encourage their patients to quit. Earned and paid media can also be used to motivate smokers to quit when policy changes are put into effect. Although these policies and efforts regarding them can generate great demand for evidence-based cessation services such as counseling and medication, it is important to make these resources available for those wanting to quit. Public and private health insurance plans should provide coverage for cessation services, and states should invest tobacco tax and/or tobacco settlement dollars in smoking-cessation programs as recommended by the CDC. Finally, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act has given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration new authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing, and to prevent tobacco companies from deceptively marketing new products that discourage smokers from quitting and keep them addicted.
2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.