Quitting Tobacco: Where to Get Help

December 23, 2005 at 10:19 am  •  Posted in Addictions by  •  0 Comments

By Linda M. Guhe, MSW, LCSW


According to the American Cancer Society about half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die because of the habit. Each year, about 438,000 people die in the United States from tobacco use. Nearly one of every five deaths in this country is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

Fortunately there are many excellent resources available for people who want to quit smoking as well as information on how to help someone else give up cigarettes. Some services are offered free of charge while others, such as individual therapy, may have a cost involved. The goal is to find the resource that works best for you! Although the following list may not include all available resources, it can offer a starting point for anyone seeking more information on how to end tobacco dependence.

One should also consider using multiple resources, such as health professional(s) along with other types of assistance, such as support groups and Internet smoking cessation sites (described below). According to guidelines developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services treatment for tobacco dependence should include practical counseling, social support as part of the treatment, and social support outside of treatment to increase the chances of quitting.

Phone Quit Lines:
  • Individuals who call this National Quitline number will be forwarded to their state’s quitline for cessation services: 1-800 QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Speak with a counselor at National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline: 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).
Internet Websites:
  • The Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for quitting both smoking and smokeless tobacco: www.cdc.gov/tobacco
  • The Database & Educational Resource for Treatment of Tobacco Dependence site offers information on the treatment of tobacco dependence: www.treatobacco.net/home/home.cfm
  • National Cancer Institute – Get advice and download cessation information for smoking and smokeless tobacco: www.smokefree.gov/.
  • American Lung Association provides tobacco related information and the web-based smoking cessation program Freedom From Smoking® Online: www.lungusa.org
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides information on nicotine and addiction: www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html
  • For information on children and tobacco, visit the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids site: www.tobaccofreekids.org
  • See the National Cancer Institute site for specific topics on tobacco: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/tobacco
  • See Healthy People 2010 for tobacco related information in your state: http://www.healthypeople.gov/
Local Community Support:
  • Nicotine Anonymous – Find a meeting: Phone: (415) 750-0328 or www.nicotine-anonymous.org/
  • American Lung Association community-based group support – To locate where Freedom From Smoking® classes are being held in your community call 1-800-LUNGUSA.
Insurance Coverage and Tobacco Cessation:

This year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will provide insurance coverage of smoking and other tobacco use cessation to help senior citizens quit the habit. This coverage will pay for a limited number of counseling sessions including sessions led by social workers.

Many insurance companies do not pay the costs for tobacco cessation treatment. However, now that Medicare is providing reimbursement for smoking cessation, other insurance companies may follow their lead.

Contact your insurance company to learn if coverage is provided for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and/or prescription medications for tobacco cessation.

Other Resources – Professional Help
  • Primary Care or Specialist Physician. Talk to your physician about concerns regarding tobacco use and advice on how to quit. Many Primary Care Physicians and Specialist Physicians are offering treatment for tobacco dependence in their office.
  • You can also visit the American Academy of Family Physicians site for information on quitting tobacco: www.familydoctor.org
  • Dentists. Your dentist can provide information on how smoking affects the gums, mucus lining, and oral cavity area in the mouth.
  • You can visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Researcher’s National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse for information on smokeless tobacco: www.nohic.nider.nih.gov/
  • Tobacco Addiction Specialists. Clinical Social Workers are among the professionals who specialize in treating tobacco addiction. Social workers who are qualified and specialize in tobacco addiction and cessation can:
    1. Evaluate the need for medications to help with tobacco cessation.
    2. Identify behaviors that must change in order to maintain long-term abstinence from tobacco.
    3. Address the emotional and psychological reasons for tobacco use.
    4. Provide more intensive treatment for individuals who want more than brief cessation counseling.
    5. Offer combined treatment for tobacco cessation with treatment for other forms of addiction and/or mental illness.
    6. Offer individual, group, or family counseling.


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