Modeling the Impact of Smoking Cessation Treatment Policies on Quit Rates

Combining cessation treatment policies could increase quit rates much more than if the policies were implemented individually. Too few smokers who try to quit use evidence-based treatments. However, if cessation treatment policies were implemented together, the synergy could yield substantial increases in quit success rates.

Researchers mathematically modeled the impacts of five policies, which, if implemented in a coordinated fashion, could reduce smoking prevalence from its current rate of 20.5 percent of the population to 17.2 percent with a year.

The five policies and their effects on quit rates are:

  • Full coverage of treatment and provider reimbursement would lead to increases of 60 percent in pharmacologic treatment use, 100 percent in behavioral treatment use and 12 percent in pharmacological/behavioral treatment use.
  • No-cost state-sponsored quitlines would generate a 12.5 percent relative increase in quit attempts.
  • Brief clinical interventions would increase quit rates by 60 percent, through a 60 percent increase in quit attempts.
  • Improved Web-based treatment would increase behavioral treatment use by 2.5 percent.
  • Extended treatment would double the effectiveness rate of existing treatments.

With a baseline population quit rate of 4.3 percent, the researchers calculated the effects of implementing the five policies in combination and projected that the annual quit rate would increase to 10.9 percent, or 2.5 times the baseline rate.

This article is part of a special issue on tobacco cessation in the March 2010 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.