Supporting smoking cessation

Build success by supporting cessation among smokers for whom a smoke-free housing policy may provide motivation to quit.

What we learned

Among surveyed voluntary adopter public housing authorities (PHAs):

  • 70% reported providing referrals for smoking cessation
  • 68% reported giving residents information about the Smokers’ Quitline (see Resources below)
  • 35% reported providing onsite smoking cessation, but many reported low turnout rates or use

—Source: Early Adopter Study

Planning for success

Identify available resources, both local and national, that can help support cessation among residents interested in quitting. At the national level, you may find resources like www.Smokefree.gov for web- or text-based support. At the local level, community health centers, physicians, or pharmacists can support smokers who would like to quit smoking.

More about Community partnerships.

Supporting cessation efforts

By making it less convenient to smoke, smoke-free policies may encourage some people to quit. PHAs can encourage residents interested in quitting by:

“We thought it was important that we provide resources for our residents, not just a policy. Not just saying, ‘No, you can’t do this,’ but ‘Let us help you do this.'”
(Housing director)
  • Promoting evidence-based tools and programs, such as those available at www.Smokefree.gov
  • Encouraging residents to work with their doctors or local community health centers on ways to quit smoking
  • Developing a list of available cessation resources and distributing it with other information about the smoke-free policy

In both the Early Adopter Study and SHARE Study, we learned that there was low uptake of onsite smoking cessation group classes. Similarly, feedback from PHA residents who participated in our research suggests that, in general, they prefer one-on-one cessation counseling rather than group cessation counseling.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

NRT, usually available in the form of patch or gum, has been shown to help smokers quit smoking because it reduces the cravings that smokers feel when they are not getting nicotine into their system. NRT products come in a variety of forms that are used in different ways. NRT can be bought without a prescription in all states. In many states, they are available at a much lower cost when covered by Medicaid or another health plan. The American Lung Association’s State Cessation Coverage Database lists state-by-state cessation coverage: www.lungusa2.org/cessation2/.

It is advisable that residents consult their health care providers to make sure there are no special concerns before starting to use NRT. Health care providers can also recommend the correct dosage for each smoker’s situation.

Medications

Prescription medications like varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion SR (Wellbutrin or Zyban) can help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These medications contain no nicotine and are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

Counseling

Some local community health centers and health promotion groups offer smoking cessation counseling services. Counseling to assist people to quit smoking can be individual or group-based. All states have quitlines with counselors who are trained specifically to provide free cessation support, help smokers develop a quit plan, and offer educational materials. People can call  800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to be connected to their state’s quitline.

More cessation resources are suggested at the end of this section.

Affirm cessation efforts

To encourage and support residents and staff who are attempting to quit, consider ways to affirm their efforts, for example:

“Some of the residents said they had been thinking of quitting, and that this was a good time to quit. We got information from the health department and posted it in common areas and offices, and we put it in our newsletter. Our local hospital has smoking cessation classes, and we told people, ‘If you take the class, if you successfully complete it, then we’ll reimburse the fee. We’ll provide transportation if necessary.’ But nobody actually took advantage of that.”
(Executive director)
  • Organize a party to celebrate everyone who quits smoking within the first year of policy implementation
  • Provide perks for staff who quit
  • Encourage residents to support people who are considering or attempting to stop smoking, or to serve as role models for others if they are former smokers

Residents can help their neighbors who smoke by:

  • Championing the policy and sharing personal stories of the health benefits of reduced secondhand smoke
  • Letting people know about resources for cessation support or nicotine dependence aids
  • Providing encouragement and support to people who are considering or attempting to stop smoking
  • Serving as role models for others if they are former smokers

Resources

Download Supporting smoking cessation as a PDF

Get Help Quitting Tobacco (American Cancer Society)
www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco.html

Information and professional assistance for people trying to quit smoking (Smoke-free.gov)
smokefree.gov/

LiveHelp Online Chat (NCI)
livehelp.cancer.gov/app/chat/chat_launch

National Cancer Institute Quitline (NCI)
877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848)

SmokefreeTXT (NCI)
smokefree.gov/smokefreetxt

State Telephone Quitlines (NCI)
800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669)

State Tobacco Cessation Coverage Database (American Lung Association)
www.lungusa2.org/cessation2/

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