Tobacco-Free Living a Top Priority in National Prevention Strategy

June 16, 2011

The Obama Administration today unveiled a National Prevention Strategy that makes tobacco-free living a top priority as the nation tries to shift the health care system from one focused on treating costly illnesses to a model that encourages wellness and prevention.

The tobacco-free living initiative calls for:

  • Support for proven policies to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, including policies requiring smoke-free workplaces and public places

  • Full implementation of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the landmark law that for the first time gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacture and sale of tobacco products

  • Expansion of services to help smokers quit, including the promotion of toll-free telephone quit lines and greater use of cessation benefits that are available through many health plans

  • Mass media campaigns to convey the health risks of tobacco use, encourage smokers to quit, decrease the social acceptability of tobacco use and build public support for tobacco control policies

'We know that prevention helps people live long and productive lives and can help combat rising health care costs,' Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in announcing the strategy.

Smoking causes one in five deaths from coronary heart disease, nearly one-third of all cancer deaths and nearly 9 in 10 deaths from lung cancer. Tobacco-related diseases cost the United States $96 billion in health care bills every year.

The prevention strategy is called for in the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed last year.