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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Ending the Tobacco Epidemic.

Thursday, September 13, 2012  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Koh HK, Sebelius KG. JAMA. Published online August 15, 2012.
This commentary written by Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Howard Koh and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius focused on progress achieved during the first three years of the Obama Administration towards ending the tobacco epidemic in America. While adult smoking prevalence has declined from 43% (1964) to about 19% (2010), tobacco use has taken a back seat to many other public health issues. Dr. Koh and Secretary Sebelius argue that heightened, not diminished, attention to the leading preventable cause of death in the United States is needed. President Obama’s enactment of four new laws, including the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010), as well as the USDHHS’s first-ever national strategic plan for tobacco control, Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan are excellent steps in the right direction. The Strategic Plan features 4 pillars that guide 21 action steps:
  • Pillar 1: Lead by Example (examples include CMS Tobacco Cessation Coverage and Expanded Cessation Options for Federal Employees and a Tobacco-Free HHS Campus)
  • Pillar 2: Improve the Public’s Health (examples include the Food and Drug Administration Regulations to Reduce Youth Access, and Investments in State and Local Tobacco Control Initiatives)
  • Pillar 3: Engage the Public (examples include The CDC National Media Campaign, and New Warnings to Convey the Health Harms of Tobacco)
  • Pillar 4: Advance Knowledge (examples include US Surgeon General Reports, and the FDA and NIH Cohort Study on Tobacco Use)
While the Obama Administration has rejuvenated tobacco control efforts, more must be done. The authors conclude that the United States can end the tobacco epidemic by meeting these challenges and reaffirming the commitment to a healthier, tobacco-free future.

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