Tobacco Addiction Counseling In The Limelight

Seeing a counselor to quit smoking has been previously shown to be quite affective (more so than nicotine patches and gum alone), and now, addiction counseling for smokers will be more accessible to several groups of the population. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) this week announced that Medicare, both parts A and B, will cover treatment for those who want to find a counselor to help quit smoking. Since smoking-cessation counseling has evidence-based proof of effectiveness, it will be covered along with certain prescription medications that are also designed to help people quit smoking.

For those covered by private insurance companies, however, there is currently very little coverage for smoking-cessation counseling. The health insurance legislation passed by Congress earlier this year will require all private insurance companies to provide financial support for smoking-cessation counseling, but this will not go into affect until 2014. However, residents of the state of California might reap these benefits as soon as January 1, 2011 if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill requiring insurance companies in the state to cover the treatment.

Tobacco and smoking make up the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States, according to the HSS. In addition to rampant physical health consequences, smoking has been associated with depression, especially in teenagers who use cigarettes in an attempt to self-medicate their hormones and mood swings. While Medicare and private insurance coverage of smoking-cessation therapy are a great move in the right direction, it is important to make sure that adequate counseling is covered by these new provisions. A study from Oregon Health Science University finds that many doctors take their patients off their prescription or counseling regimen sooner than is appropriate to affect true abstinence. The more we understand about not only the physically addictive element of smoking, but also how cognitive behavioral therapy helps people kick the habit, the better we can shape both legislation and insurance coverage around counseling programs that provide the greatest benefit to individuals trying to quit.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • J.Snape

    September 6th, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    That smoking can not only be stopped by physical alternatives by through counseling too just goes to show that it not only affects a person physically but also mentally.I think this is a pretty good point to make to a smoker to make him think twice before lighting the next cigarette!

  • John

    September 6th, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    So you have to be covered by the govt to get any help for this- that figures

  • CARL

    September 6th, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    You keeping telling a person that he needs to quit smoking-its not gonna help!

    You tell him why he needs to stop smoking, what the benefits are-then there is a much better chance of the person actually quitting.

    Its the same when we talk to ourselves.Telling ourselves that we need to quit is not going to help but telling ourselves why we need to quit works much better.

  • Cameron

    September 6th, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    That’s a step in the right direction. I would imagine smoking related illnesses to be more costly in the long run to the Medicare program than smoking-cessation counseling would be. Think of all the long term treatment, surgery and medication involved for a lung cancer patient. Private companies should take note too.

  • conrad

    September 7th, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    it is good that there are plans to bring the cover to everybody.but the fact that it will take atleast four years for most of us to actually benefit is a little disappointing.its a problem common to all government programs.they really need to try and make things move faster so that people can derive maximum benefit.

  • Sandy

    September 7th, 2010 at 4:30 AM

    Seems to me that more insurance companies would want to jump on board with smoking cessation therapy. You know, try to be a little proactive and pay a little more at the outset instead of having to cover cancer costs later on, which that treatment is sure to be a whole lot more expensive for them to cover than a few therapy sessions. But what do I know, right? Sometimes the insurance industry’s way of thinking completely stumps me.

  • Heath

    September 7th, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    I used to be addicted to smoking and would finish off packs everyday. This was until I was taken to a de-addiction camp by my wife and that really helped me kick the addiction and get rid of my smoking habit and start living a life free of guilt of spoiling my own health :)
    In addition to the de-addiction,the end of smoking has made me more health-conscious.

  • Lawrence

    September 10th, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    A therapist can help you see that smoking is a crutch, nothing more, and to find why you feel the need to do it. You can discover to occupy your mind and hands that don’t include cigarettes if you are serious about giving up. Once you make up your mind, it can be easier than you imagine.

  • Ian

    September 10th, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Everybody tells me I should stop smoking. I’m not stopping for nobody! Freedom of choice is where this country’s foundations lie. I fought for the right to be free to do what I want. I’ll be puffing away on my deathbed.

  • Fraser

    September 13th, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Yeah, and that deathbed will arrive probably 10 or 15 years sooner than it had to because of that little white cancer stick. But you go on and enjoy your choice to die sooner than you have to, Ian.

  • Beth

    September 14th, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    You don’t care about your own health, Ian. I get that. What about those around you? I was reading that kids subjected to secondhand smoke may get poorer grades than students that don’t live with smokers.

    Your grades are the first real stepping stone into the world of work and career. How you do determines whether you get into college or university. You don’t mind having the possibility that your smoking affected your child’s grades on your conscience?

  • Fletcher

    September 15th, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    That’s a wise financial decision made by the powers-that-be. The CDC’s estimated cost of smoking related diseases, combining lost productivity and healthcare costs, was over $167 billion annually between 1997-2001. It will be much higher now. Reducing that number is very important.

  • Darrell

    September 16th, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    You do what you want, Ian. It’s your life, not theirs! Quit preaching at the guy. He’s a grown adult and can make up his own mind.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.