New Report Confirms Tobacco Epidemic Won't End Without Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs and Policy Change

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Physicians, Health Care Systems Play Critical Role in Ensuring All New Yorkers Have Access to Tobacco Dependence Treatment

(New York, NY) -- More than 82 percent of adults in the U.S. have contact with a health care professional every year, resulting in one billion physician office visits and opportunities to deliver tobacco dependence treatment.2 Physicians can greatly improve the likelihood a patient will quit smoking. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a doctor's advice and assistance more than double the odds that a tobacco user will quit successfully.

Launched six months ago by CAI, the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement for a Tobacco-Free New York is setting an aggressive course of action for work with regional contractors across New York State to support health systems changes that will ensure every tobacco user is offered and receives timely tobacco dependence treatment. The project prioritizes health systems and organizations that serve populations for which smoking prevalence rates have not decreased in recent years.

"If we can reduce tobacco use in a systematic way as part of regular physician visits, New York State will see outcomes like better management of conditions, specifically diabetes and hypertension, and, ultimately, decreased prevalence of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness," said Elizabeth Jones, Director of the Center of Excellence. "Tobacco is often at the root of chronic illness and serious medical conditions. Every encounter a patient is not screened for tobacco use and assisted in accessing treatment, if desired, represents a missed opportunity."

In a December report released by the CDC, researchers verified the importance of comprehensive tobacco control programs and systems that promote tobacco use cessation. The study, which found that 8.7 percent of annual U.S. health care spending in 2010 could be linked to tobacco use, also confirmed that the majority of these health care costs are paid for by public programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Highlighting the enormous and growing health care costs related to the tobacco epidemic, the report also confirmed that coordinated interventions and policy change are critical to end the tobacco epidemic nationwide.3

According to an American Cancer Society estimate, 30 percent of cancers could be avoided if people stopped using tobacco.4 Claiming the lives of 28,000 New Yorkers every year,5 tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in New York State, afflicting nearly 600,000 residents with serious disease directly attributable to their smoking.6

Projects like the Center of Excellence are designed to create systematic changes that impact entire populations. Over the next five years, the Center of Excellence will provide resources and support so that health systems, including Federally Qualified Health Centers and other health care organizations serving low-income New Yorkers, will make changes to their operations and integrate tobacco dependence treatment into every patient visit. Facilities that treat New Yorkers with serious mental illness are also a high priority for the project since individuals with serious mental conditions have higher rates of tobacco dependence and lower quit rates than the general population.

"As more New Yorkers gain access to health care services through the Affordable Care Act and the redesigning of the Medicaid program, we hope health care systems will embrace the opportunity to be part of the solution to end the tobacco epidemic and create a healthier New York," said Jones.

According to the CDC, the health care costs attributable to tobacco are as much as $170 billion per year.

For more information about the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement for a Tobacco-Free New York, click here to visit the website.

About CAI: CAI is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of underserved populations worldwide. For 35 years CAI has provided customized capacity building services to health and human service organizations in over 27 countries and in all 50 states. Offering over 1,500 training programs annually, CAI's passionate staff works to fulfill its mission: to use the transformative power of education and research to foster a more aware, healthy, compassionate and equitable world. For more information about CAI, visit our website:

About the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement: With funding from the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Control, CAI serves as the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement (COE for HSI) for a Tobacco-Free NY. The Center promotes large-scale systems and policy changes to support the universal provision of evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment services. HSI aims to support 10 contractors throughout New York State working regionally with health care systems and organizations that serve those populations for which smoking prevalence rates have not decreased in recent years - adults with low income, less than a high school diploma and/or poor mental health. Focused on providing capacity building assistance services around topics like how to engage and obtain buy-in from leadership to implement the kinds of systems-level changes that will result in identification and intervention with every tobacco user who seeks care, HSI also will offer materials and resources to support contractors in their regional work. For more information, click here to visit the project website.

 1. Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online on December 9, 2014,
2. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2010, Summary Tables, Table 1, 9, 13,
3. Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online on December 9, 2014,
4. 2012-2017 New York State Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan, NYS DOH,
5. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, 2014, Section C: Recommended Funding Levels, by State New York,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General., 2010,