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Department of Health and Human Services Update

July 28, 2011: Cessation: Emerging Interventions and Innovations

Rosemarie Henson, M.S.S.W., Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Rosemarie Henson began her remarks with a slide portraying many of the current dynamic leaders in the federal government who are supportive of comprehensive tobacco control efforts. These include President Obama, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Despite this important level of federal support, the tobacco problem is not solved. More than 46 million adults in the U.S. smoke and tobacco use causes more than 440,000 deaths a year. For each death, 20 more people suffer from tobacco-related illness and the annual costs amount to close to $96 million in medical expenses and $97 million in lost productivity. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry outspends tobacco control efforts by more than 20 to one.

Following a vision of Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Kohl, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a tobacco control strategic plan titled Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plan includes four pillars:

  • Improve the Public's Health: Accelerate State and Community Tobacco Control Efforts
    • Build on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments by expanding evidence-based tobacco control programs. We know that comprehensive tobacco control programs with sufficient funding that implement policy interventions such as excise tax increases, smoke-free policies, aggressive media campaigns, access to cessation services and comprehensive advertising restrictions, are all effective approaches to preventing initiation and helping smokers quit. These are the same approaches that have been successful in Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) programs. It is also critical that our National Cessation Strategy is fully implemented including expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage; supporting the National Network of Tobacco Use Cessation Quitlines; requiring new graphic warning labels on cigarette packs including the 1-800-QUITNOW resources; implementing a hard hitting media campaign and new social media strategies.
  • Engage the Public: Change Social Norms with National Media and Communications
    • Media campaigns are effective in reducing youth initiation, encouraging cessation, increasing negative attitudes toward the tobacco industry and increasing support for policy change. The CDC and the FDA currently have national tobacco education campaigns underway.
  • Lead by Example: Implement Model Tobacco Control Policies within the Department of Health and Human Services
    • All HHS health care service providers will adopt best practices for tobacco use screening and cessation.
    • The HHS tobacco-free campus policy will be implemented along with the promotion of expanded cessation benefits for federal employees.
    • HHS is working in partnership with other federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Veteran's Administration and Office of Personnel Management to incorporate tobacco prevention and control policies into their activities.
  • Advance Knowledge: Expand the Science Base and Monitor Progress
    • A Department-wide research plan to support FDA's regulatory authority will be implemented.
    • A longitudinal cohort study in collaboration with National Institute on Drug Abuse is planned to better understand the path of tobacco use.

The Strategic Action Plan can be found at Exit Notification/Disclaimer Policy (PDF–2.24 MB)

Following Rosemarie Henson's remarks, Surgeon General Benjamin asked Ms. Henson to clarify whether HHS buildings are currently smoke-free. Ms. Henson clarified that while the inside of all buildings have been smoke-free, this policy further requires campuses to be tobacco-free.

Ms. Henson introduced the next speaker.

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