Workshop looks to expand reach, impact of tobacco dependence treatment efforts

Hosted by Johns Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control and Global Bridges

Experts in the field of tobacco dependence treatment are looking to increase the reach and impact of their work. To this end, a group is meeting in Seattle, WA to examine scientific evidence and discuss ways to increase the population impact of tobacco dependence treatment interventions and ultimately, help more people stop using tobacco through use of proven support methods.

This initiative is timely for several reasons:

  • From a healthcare and clinical perspective, there is an ethical imperative to help smokers quit, especially as public health approaches like taxation and smokefree environments increase the desire to quit but do not directly assist those who are addicted and cannot stop without help. “If there is a short piece of wood, a bucket of water cannot be full,” said Dr. Dongbo Fu of the World Health Organization to illustrate that you cannot leave the O (offer of help) out of MPOWER.
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  • Access to effective tobacco dependence treatment is low, except in higher income countries. Given this, it is unclear to many, including many governments, how high a priority should be placed on increasing the provision of cessation support relative to other tobacco control strategies recommended by the FCTC (e.g. taxation and public place smoking bans) – given finite resources.
  • Although there is abundant evidence supporting the efficacy of tobacco dependence treatment (behavioral and pharmacologic therapies) and its value and cost-effectiveness as a healthcare system intervention, its impact at population level is not yet well understood.

“Our challenge is to bring together the evidence we have on population impact of treatment interventions, and figure out where to go from there,” said Dr. Joanna Cohen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Additionally, the group seeks to be able to identify gaps in evidence and how best to address them. This will lead to the development of specific recommendations for improving tobacco dependence treatment at the population level and delivering it to those who want and would benefit from it and at reasonable cost.

Look for updates about the outcomes from the meeting on this website.