Monday, August 2, 2010

ActiontoQuit is a tobacco cessation initiative sponsored by Partnership for Prevention. It urges all sectors - employers, insurers, health care systems, quitlines, and policymakers - to work together to ensure that all tobacco users have access to comprehensive cessation treatments.

Senior Program Officer for the Partnership for Prevention, David Zauche, recently spoke with the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center about current activities and future projects of ActionToQuit:

1. Could you tell us a about the ActionToQuit State Grant Program? Which States are recipients? What are the states striving to accomplish? How does the program play a part in Partnership’s mission?

ActionToQuit is Partnership for Prevention's tobacco cessation initiative. Partnership's mission is to be the nation's most trusted resource, educator and advocate for disease prevention and health promotion. To that end, ActionToQuit works through policy and system change to increase access to tobacco cessation treatments for all Americans. Our website is and we offer a free monthly tobacco cessation e-newsletter and listserv, both by subscription.

Partnership for Prevention awarded six ActionToQuit state grants in 2010 for the implementation of innovative strategies to advance to tobacco cessation, with funds used for the development of state alliances/summit meetings and the creation of strategic plans. The projects will involve various sectors that can impact access to tobacco cessation including employers, health care systems, insurers, quitlines, and policymakers. The state grant projects are:

• Colorado - Cessation Coverage/Treatment for Colorado's Uninsured

• Florida - Tobacco Cessation Summit & Action Plan

• Nevada - Increasing Cessation Access for All Nevadans

• New England - New England Partnership for Smoking Cessation Policy

• New York - New York State Access to Tobacco Use Treatment Strategic Planning Project

• Virginia - Virginia Partnership for Tobacco Use Cessation

A brief on each grantee's initiative has been posted to the ActionToQuit website here.

2. Your website offers some valuable resources for those interested in expanding access to tobacco cessation treatment. Could you tell us about the recent creation of Save Lives and Money - Help People on Medicaid Quit Tobacco? What was the history behind the creation of the guide?

Save Lives and Money - Help People on Medicaid Quit Tobacco is a new resource from Partnership and the American Lung Association. It's the second guide of its kind from these national partners, the first one dealing with state employee tobacco cessation coverage. This resource is important because of the high rates of tobacco use among the Medicaid population and the associated costs. The big idea is that because so much of Medicaid's funding goes toward tobacco-related diseases, an up-front investment in prevention (i.e. tobacco cessation) must be given serious consideration. In 2004, U.S. Medicaid expenditures for illnesses caused by tobacco totaled $30 billion, or 11% of the entire Medicaid budget. The point is that we must do more to help people on Medicaid quit tobacco - if we do we'll save both lives and money.

3. Why did you feel there is a need for such a resource?

ActionToQuit wants to spotlight the states that are doing the best job at providing Medicaid coverage for their tobacco users. The six states that lead the way by covering all treatments recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service are Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. In particular, we applaud their efforts to cover all medications and counseling treatments since most smokers will need many attempts and (possibly) several different tools to quit successfully.

4. What audience is the guide intended for?Partnership for Prevention believes that all Medicaid plans should be required to cover all cessation treatments. To this end the new guide is intended for advocates that comprise state tobacco control coalitions, insurers/health plans, state Medicaid leaders, and policymakers. States have achieved many outstanding advances in smoke free air laws and increased tobacco taxes and these accomplishments are to be commended. However, tobacco control policies related to cessation have often lagged behind. One area in which much progress is needed involves the unnecessary barriers that exist which make it harder for people to make quit attempts. Insurers and policymakers should focus on removing these barriers, which include co-pays, duration limits, annual limits on quit attempts, and dollar limits. There are policy solutions for these problems.

5. How does the guide address the passage of health reform for Medicaid and cessation coverage? be continued: read part two of the interview this Thursday, August 5, 2010


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