Former Surgeons General Announce Smoking Cessation Plan
Four former surgeons general and other medical experts on Tuesday announced a 10-point plan that includes a $2 per pack increase of the federal excise tax on cigarettes as part of an effort to induce about five million U.S. smokers to quit, the Chicago Tribune reports. The plan recommended both federal and public-private initiatives including universal access to cessation treatments; smoking cessation training for health care providers; research on tobacco use; media campaigns to discourage smoking; and Medicare and Medicaid coverage of treatment for tobacco dependency, the Tribune reports (Herrndobler, Chicago Tribune, 2/4). The plan also recommended establishing a national counseling and support line for smokers trying to quit. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Tuesday announced that HHS will spend $25 million in establishing a toll-free, national "quitline" by the end of 2004, with additional funding going to states that have or would like to create similar statewide quitlines, AP/Miami Herald reports (Yen, AP/Miami Herald, 2/4). The 10-point plan is estimated to cost about $5 billion annually, the Tribune reports. However, the $2 per pack tax increase is expected to generate $28 billion; members of the panel that drafted the plan recommend using half of that amount to implement the plan and applying the other half to other federal programs or deficit reduction.
Surgeon General Julius Richmond said that the plan could become the "public health success story of the 21st century" if implemented. Jennifer Golisch, spokesperson for tobacco company Philip Morris USA, said that the company supports government efforts to educate the public about smoking, including the quitline, but that the $2 tax increase could promote counterfeiting and illegal sale of cigarettes over the Internet (Chicago Tribune, 2/4). Health officials estimate that 50 million U.S. residents smoke, resulting in 440,000 premature deaths annually (AP/Miami Herald, 2/4). The plan is available online. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this plan.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.