Ending the Tobacco Epidemic

A recent SAMHSA report indicates that adolescent cigarette use nationwide declined significantly over the past decade. However, smoking remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death, responsible for an estimated 443,000 American deaths each year, with 50,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke. One in eleven adolescents in the U.S. report smoking in the past month. In addition, tobacco use takes an enormous toll among people with mental and substance use disorders:

  • Almost half of tobacco deaths are people with mental and substance use disorders
  • Forty-four percent of all cigarettes sold in the U.S. are smoked by people with mental and substance use disorders
  • Tobacco dependence is the most prevalent drug abuse disorder among adults with mental illness
  • Smoking tobacco causes more deaths among clients in substance abuse treatment than the alcohol or drug use that brings them to treatment

Beginning in 2009, a working group of public health experts across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened to develop a Department-wide strategic action plan for tobacco control to accelerate progress in ending the tobacco epidemic. As a result, in 2010, HHS unveiled a new comprehensive tobacco control strategy: Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Strategic Action Plan charts a framework designed to achieve four central tobacco-related objectives of Healthy People 2020:

  • Reduce tobacco use by adults and adolescents
  • Reduce the initiation of tobacco use among children, adolescents, and young adults
  • Increase smoking cessation success by adult smokers
  • Reduce the proportion of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke

In 2011, a newly established HHS Tobacco Control Implementation Steering Committee, comprised of senior HHS leaders and tobacco control experts and chaired by Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, began monitoring the overall implementation of the Strategic Action Plan. The Steering Committee meets regularly to set priorities, develop plans for cross-agency implementation of strategic actions, and promote information exchange and collaboration.
In August 2012, the Steering Committee released a report that documents progress in implementing the Strategic Action Plan and ultimately achieving the Healthy People 2020 objectives. This new report highlights the unprecedented level of tobacco control activities at the federal level: Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: Progress Toward a Healthier Nation.
If you would like information on SAMHSA’s efforts to reduce tobacco use, please contact:
Doug Tipperman, M.S.W.
Lead Public Health Advisor
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
1 Choke Cherry Road
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: 240-276-2442 Fax: 240-276-2580

The post above is reprinted with permission from the SAMHSA Blog.

Doug Tipperman is the Lead Public Health Advisor at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
*Photo at top by Flickr user mag3737

Updated: February 08 2018