Key Researchers


Overview of Increasing the Use of Smoking Cessation Treatments


K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Review Panel: Linda Bailey, J.D., M.H.S., North American Quitline Consortium, Tim McAfee, M.D., Free and Clear, Inc., C. Tracy Orleans, Ph.D., The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Introduction: In 2005 some 40 percent of the 45 million adult smokers in the United States tried to quit. But most of them failed to stay off cigarettes for more than a few weeks. A closer look at why smokers have such a hard time overcoming their nicotine addiction reveals that many do not follow proven smoking cessation treatment strategies, such as those widely recommended by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

For example, the USPHS recommends that anyone trying to stop smoking should receive behavioral counseling and have access to anti-smoking medications that have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Research has shown that smokers who pursue a cessation program that includes brief counseling and medication are more likely to give up cigarettes and remain smoke-free than smokers who try to quit without assistance.

The problem is that most smokers who attempt to quit do so without getting any assistance and typically return to smoking within a few days or weeks. And among those who do get help, many pursue unproven stop smoking methods, such as hypnosis, acupuncture, cutting back on the amount smoked daily or switching to cigarettes that promise lower tar or nicotine content. Moreover, unsuccessful efforts to stop smoking can discourage future attempts.

Over the past ten years, SAPRP has funded several studies to examine particular policies and programs that might lead more smokers to pursue proven tobacco cessation treatments.

Date Updated :
Original Date: Oct. 2007

Cummings, K.M.; Increasing the Use of Smoking Cessation Treatments Knowledge Asset, Web site created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program; October 2007.,

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