Looking Back at a Dozen Years of Smoking Cessation Efforts

It has been 12 years, since the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) issued its first “Clinical Practice Guideline –Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.”

Yale psychiatrist Stephanie O’Malley played a key role in developing the 2008 guidelines scheduled to be released by the PHS in Chicago on Tuesday, May 7.

O’Malley, director of the Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale, has reviewed some of the lessons learned in more than a decade of research that went into the guidelines and offered some insight into what helps people quit.

Although tobacco prevention programs have been successful in reducing the percentage of people who smoke, much more needs to be done, she argues.

Here, says O’Malley, are some of the major lessons gleaned from recent research:

  1. Effective treatments exist that significantly improve the odds that a person will successfully quit smoking. Two new approaches that appear to be particularly effective are the drug varenicline and combinations of medications, such as nicotine gum and nicotine patch, she says. O’Malley is currently investigating other combination therapies that may help reduce weight gain associated with quitting in order to remove this barrier to smoking cessation.
  2. Telephone quitline counseling is effective. Connecticut has a Quitline that is free to the public and offers up to 4-5 phone treatment sessions, recommendations on the medications, and a series of Quit Guides. The toll-free phone number for the quitline is 1-866-END-HABIT (1-866-363-4224).
  3. Counseling and medication are effective alone but more effective together. For this reason, smokers should be encouraged to use both, says O’Malley.
  4. Providing insurance coverage for tobacco dependence increases the likelihood that a tobacco user will receive treatment and quit successfully. All insurance plans should include counseling and medications identified as effective by the Guideline as covered benefits, says the Yale psychiatrist.


The work above was funded, fully or in part, by the Yale Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant from the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health.O’Ma

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Media Contact

Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322