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Study: Many smokers who want to quit don't use available treatment, services

November 11, 2011
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SmokingMost American adults who smoke wish they could quit and more than half have tried within the past year -- but most still don't use available treatments that could help them, says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With the Great American Smokeout up ahead, attention is being focused on smoking, called "the most important preventable cause of premature death in the U.S." by the American Heart Association.

The CDC report says 68.8 percent of current American adult smokers say they want to quit and 52.4 percent of adult smokers tried to quit within the past year.  Some 48.3 percent of smokers who saw a health professional in the past year recalled getting advice to quit and 31.7 percent used counseling and/or medications in the past year.

Using these treatments can dramatically improve a smoker's chance of quitting, according to the CDC.

“Smokers who try to quit can double or triple their chances by getting counseling, medicine, or both," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. He said hard–hitting media campaigns, smoke–free policies, and higher tobacco prices also have a positive effect on cessation efforts.

The analysis, published is in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is timed to coincide with the annual Great American Smokeout, observed this year on Nov. 17. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Smokeout encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

The report also notes the health care industry can increase successful quit attempts by providing comprehensive insurance coverage with no deductibles or co-payments for cessation treatments and services. 

Smokers can get free resources and help quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or visiting www.smokefree.gov.

“Quitting smoking is the best thing smokers can do for their health and the health of their families,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “We know that quitting can be challenging, but more than half of Americans who ever smoked have quit and you can too. Talk to your health care provider and call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help.” 

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease, including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other lung diseases, in the United States. Smoking and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke kill an estimated 443,000 Americans each year. For every 1 smoking-related death, another 20 people live with a smoking-related disease.

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