Interventions that increase quitting can decrease premature mortality and tobacco-related health care costs in the short-term. Quitting by age 30 eliminates nearly all excess risk associated with smoking, and smokers who quit smoking before age 50 cut in half their risk of dying in the next 15 years. Furthermore, tobacco cessation programs are more cost-effective than other commonly provided clinical preventive services, including screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, and treatments for mild to moderate hypertension and high cholesterol.
Although quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits, tobacco use is addictive. More than 40% of smokers try to quit each year, but without assistance, most will relapse. To increase tobacco use cessation, the independent Task Force on Community Preventive Services’ Guide to Community Preventive Services strongly recommends:
- Increasing the unit price of tobacco products
- Conducting mass media education campaigns combined with other community interventions
- Providing telephone-based cessation counseling
- Reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients
- Implementing health care provider reminder systems (alone or combined with provider education)
Connecticut Smoking Cessation & Medicaid
The CT state legislature authorized the Department of Social Services to provide a Medicaid benefit for smoking cessation in 2002, but did not provide funding for the benefit until 2011. Effective October 1, 2010, federal legislation required all states to provide comprehensive tobacco cessation services for pregnant women. Effective January 1, 2012 this same benefit will be available to all Medicaid clients.