Five Western States Form "Think Tank" - It Promotes Tobacco-Cessation Policy Changes

The Pacific Center on Health and Tobacco was formed in 1999 to assist member states in implementing statewide tobacco cessation guidelines. The guidelines were issued by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research in 1996 (later revised and published through the United States Public Health Service in 2000).

It is an informal coalition of five western states (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington) and five national partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a number of programs funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Key Results

  • Acting essentially as a think tank, the Pacific Center shared information and resources both among participants and with non-member agencies and states, and promoted opportunities for collaborative research.

  • It did so through six workshops and four ad hoc meetings, a website with "virtual workspace" for its members to exchange information, three reports on different aspects of tobacco cessation, including its key document, Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Cessation, and two toolkits to guide health providers, insurers, employers and others involved with the issue.

  • It convened a new group of eight states (Hawaii, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin) to participate in training and technical assistance.

  • It fostered a close and ongoing partnership with the Office on Smoking and Health of the CDC.

  • Its work helped to reinforce the idea that tobacco cessation requires critical policy and health care systems change (e.g., benefit design, quality measurement, provider certification, coverage solutions, system-based reminder systems, the business case for cessation) to assure optimal delivery of effective clinical interventions.

Key Recommendations

  • According to Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Cessation, state programs should have four interrelated, evidence-based components:

    • State-funded quitlines, which can help people stop using tobacco through direct telephone counseling, coordinate use of stop-smoking medications and partner with health systems.
    • Cessation services routinely offered in conjunction with health care delivery.
    • Benefit coverage through employers, public insurance programs and other health care purchasers.
    • Community development and tailored population-based approaches to reach disparate populations.

    Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Cessation also suggested that state tobacco cessation programs conduct outreach campaigns using communication strategies to influence public opinion and promote health care policy changes.