Although the rates of tobacco use among adults and youth in the U.S. and in Arkansas have declined considerably in the last half century, rates in Arkansas still exceed those at the national level, particularly among minority groups. Since 2001, efforts to reduce tobacco use rates have been assisted by the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline (ATQ), which is funded through the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program with dollars dedicated to health improvement by the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000. Despite the ATQ’s documented cost-effectiveness, Arkansas legislators have raised questions about its continued funding, citing the availability of tobacco cessation coverage through Medicaid and private health plans including those providing coverage to Medicaid beneficiaries. This fact sheet provides information on smoking trends and demographic differences, the economic impact of smoking, and tobacco cessation programs in Arkansas.
In 2011, 21.2 percent of U.S. adults and 27 percent of Arkansas adults were current smokers, declining to 17.1 and 23.6, respectively, in 2016; Arkansas, tobacco-related healthcare expenditures are approximately $1.2 billion per year including at least $242 million in Medicaid costs; The Arkansas Tobacco Quitline (ATQ) has been funded annually since 2001 as a component of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program (TPCP); Each year more than 3,000 ATQ users successfully quit; For every $1 invested in the ATQ, Arkansas saves $28 in direct healthcare costs; Although there has been significant improvement in tobacco cessation programs offered for insured individuals, these programs are not as comprehensive as the ATQ – a service available for all individuals regardless of health insurance status.