Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ActionToQuit Cessation Summit in Orlando, Florida

Partnership for Prevention’s fourth ActionToQuit state summit was held on October 14 in Orlando, Florida. Led by the American Lung Association in Florida, the event brought together 65 organizational representatives, leaders, and advocates committed to saving lives and improving health through tobacco cessation at the one of the newest facilities in Orlando, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Center at Lake Nona. The Orlando event was unique in that about 190 participants from 27 remote locations across Florida tuned into the summit virtually and participated in workgroups of their own to begin to develop a strategic plan for the state to increase access to tobacco cessation treatments.

The summit continued to take advantage of technology and social media throughout the day, encouraging participants to “tweet” updates from the summit with their Smartphone and to send in questions for presenters by email and text messages. On-site participants were polled on a variety of issues after each presenter using electronic polling keypads which allowed for the results to be displayed for the audience in seconds. These additional features of the Florida summit were definitely value-added and made for increased dialogue and participation.

As noted in the presentation given by Dr. Thomas Brandon, Director of the Tobacco Research & Intervention Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, 17.5 percent of adults in Florida are current cigarette smokers. While over a span of 10 years at least 2-3 people die from shark attacks, 10 die from alligator attacks, and 10,000 people are murdered, tobacco use will kill 300,000 individuals.

Jennifer Singleterry, Manger of Cessation Policy at the American Lung Association, pointed out that smoking not only costs Florida thousands of lives each year, but there are also significant economic costs incurred. Each year Florida suffers $4.4 billion in workplace productivity losses; $7.9 billion in costs of premature death; and $7.3 billion in direct healthcare expenditures. These outrages losses, coupled with the prevalence of morbidity and mortality due to tobacco use, continue to make the case for providing a comprehensive cessation benefit in the state of Florida. For every $1.00 spent on providing cessation treatments, Florida has the potential to see an average return of $1.24.

Diane Canova, Vice President of Policy & Programs at Partnership for Prevention provided the presentation on health reform and what it means for tobacco addiction treatment. She stressed that tobacco cessation offers the highest value of all preventive services, receiving the top rating by the National Commission for Prevention Priorities for health impact and cost effectiveness. She also noted the recent expansion of Medicare coverage for cessation counseling to all tobacco users and other key provisions in the Affordable Care Act. The take-away message was that implementation of expanded coverage is key and we must keep tobacco a prominent priority in community prevention to truly drive down the number of tobacco users.

After the morning presenters, summit participants were divided into workgroups to begin making recommendations for the following audiences to ensure that they receive or provide comprehensive tobacco cessation coverage in the state of Florida: 1) healthcare industry; 2) government employees; 3) Medicaid recipients; and 4) businesses. The larger group reconvened at the end of the day to report out on the recommendations and everyone was pleased by the thought and work that had been put into them in such a short amount of time.

The American Lung Association in Florida and its partners will take the next step in the development of the statewide plan by gathering all the information received at the summit and choosing the recommendations that will hopefully lead to all employees in the state having comprehensive coverage. We look forward to seeing Florida’s plan sometime in December and helping them to implement their plan in the upcoming year.

Brandi Robinson
Tobacco Control Program Associate


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