Most Smokers Want to Quit, but Too Few Succeed

November 10, 2011


The overwhelming majority of smokers want to quit and more than half of them tried to do so last year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet too few smokers are using proven treatments, such as medication and counseling, to help them stop smoking for good.

Nearly 70 percent of American smokers say they want to quit, and 52.4 percent of them tried to do so in 2010. Yet only about 6 percent succeeded, a CDC survey shows. 

Less than half of smokers who saw a health professional in the past year were advised to quit, and an even smaller proportion — about 32 percent — used counseling or medications when they tried.

The CDC report confirms that most smokers want to quit, but too many don’t get the help they need to succeed.  To help more smokers break their addiction, all private and government health plans should provide affordable and accessible coverage for smoking-cessation medication and counseling.  The 2010 health care reform law significantly expanded coverage for smoking cessation treatment under Medicaid and private plans, but there is still more to do.

States should also use more of the money they get from the settlement of lawsuits against the tobacco industry and from cigarette taxes to fund programs that keep kids from smoking, and help smokers quit.  States must also continue to enact policies that encourage quitting, including higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free air laws.

Trying to quit or to help a smoker give up cigarettes?  Visit or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.