In October, Partnership for Prevention sponsored Colorado’s ActionToQuit tobacco cessation summit in Denver. The event brought together organization, agencies, advocates, and leaders to discuss tobacco cessation policy strategies. The state-level summit was convened by the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance, which received a grant from Partnership for Prevention to develop a state action plan for tobacco cessation.
Colorado’s target audience is the 700,000 uninsured persons in the state, whose collective smoking rate is 32%, compared to 18% in the general population. At the summit, this new alliance of organizations learned about current tobacco cessation coverage gaps and shortly will create a comprehensive strategic plan for the state’s uninsured. Colorado has made great strides in smoke-free air, tobacco tax, and insurance coverage for privately insured and Medicaid populations – assisting the uninsured population is now the top priority to drive down smoking prevalence.
The uninsured in Colorado are similar to those nationwide – higher smoking rates, more in-home smoking, less access to treatment, and less success at quitting. Two thirds of the adult smokers in Colorado are in the lower socioeconomic strata. The touch points for the uninsured are emergency departments, federally qualified health clinics, and other safety net clinics, but cessation treatment is not likely to be offered through these channels, at present. Smoking related health costs for the state total $1.3 billion annually, including $300 million in Medicaid costs.
The Colorado team has held key informant interviews and roundtable meetings in addition to the state summit. The target groups involved are:
Medical providers/professionals serving the uninsured
Mental health and substance abuse treatment providers and professionals
Advocacy/policy organizations and funders serving the uninsured
Media professionals with knowledge of reaching low income populations (focus on increasing utilization)
Colorado health systems experts
Workforce/employee/employer organizations serving/employing the uninsured
This ActionToQuit summit was an excellent first step toward the alliance’s goal of making Colorado the best state in the USA for tobacco cessation treatment.