Helping People Quit - Commercial Tobacco Prevention and Control - Minnesota Department of Health

Helping People Quit Commercial Tobacco

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Many people who use commercial tobacco want to quit. The good news: free help is available to all Minnesotans. People who use phone coaching and quit medications are twice as likely to successfully quit. Learn about Minnesota’s free quit support programs: Quitting Commercial Tobacco.

Visit the Quit Partner Professionals page for additional information and resources.

On this page:
Refer the People You Serve to Free Quit Support
Resources to Support You and Your Organization in Making Referrals
Professional Education and Free Accredited Learning
Implementing and Supporting Cessation Treatment in Clinical Practices
Navigating Coverage, Coding and Billing for Cessation Treatment
Promoting Quitting
Resources for Behavioral Health Professionals
Resources for Pharmacy Professionals
Return on Investment for Tobacco Cessation

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Refer the People You Serve to Free Quit Support

All Minnesota residents – whether they have health insurance or not – have access to free support to quit commercial tobacco. Health care providers and community-based organizations can refer patients and clients to free support.

  1. As you and your client talk about their commercial tobacco use, you can offer the option of having a trained commercial tobacco cessation agent call the client as a resource to support quitting.
  2. If your client agrees, visit How to Refer Patients and complete the fax or web referral form.
  3. Once you submit the referral to Quit Partner, a trained cessation agent will contact your client within 24 hours and complete an enrollment. Quit Partner will connect your client to the appropriate commercial tobacco cessation program.

During the enrollment process, the agent will assess your client’s health insurance status. If your client is underinsured or uninsured or qualifies for one of our specialized programs, they will receive support through Quit Partner. If your client has health insurance coverage, the agent will connect them to cessation support through their health plan.

For more information, view Frequently Asked Questions about Quit Partner Referral (PDF) and Quit Partner Provider Referral Presentation Summary (PDF).

Quit Partner's tobacco cessation coaches have extensive training to guide individuals through behavioral counseling and medication support. Coaches are dedicated to working with participants one-on-one to create a quitting plan that will work for them.

It may be quicker and more effective to refer patients and clients to quit services through Quit Partner than to provide a single counseling session in your office.

According to the 2018 Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey:

  • More than 70% of individuals who smoke visited a physician in the past year.
  • About half (46%) of adults who smoke (260,000 individuals) made a quit attempt within the previous 12 months; of those who made a quit attempt, 12%, or 76,000 individuals, were successful.
  • While nearly all individuals who smoke who visited a physician reported that they were asked if they smoke (95.4%), only 3/4 of those patients (76.4%) were advised to not smoke . Only half (55.2%) were referred to cessation support (medications, counseling, or both).
  • Additionally, the Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: PHS Clinical Practice Guidelines say that brief cessation interventions are clinically effective and cost effective. Brief cessation advice from a clinician yielded a 66% increase in successful quit rates. Individuals who smoked cited a physician’s advice to quit as an important motivator for attempting to stop smoking.

    Community leaders play an important role in helping people quit commercial tobacco. According to the report Community Voices: Reducing Tobacco-Related Health Inequities:

    • Community members are more likely to use services that are referred to them by, and provided by, members of their own community.
    • Community members want to receive cessation services from people whom they trust, who understand their needs and context and who are located within their communities.
    • Across community groups, relationships are key; people want help from those who will understand their situation and know their needs.

Resources to Support You and Your Organization in Making Referrals

For more information on how to refer your patient or client, review and use these resources within your organization: 

Professional Education and Free Accredited Learning

Implementing and Supporting Cessation Treatment in Clinical Practices

Healthcare professionals can use the following resources for more information on topics including how to screen and use the electronic health record for patients who use commercial tobacco, address and treat dependence, and provide a brief intervention.

Navigating Coverage, Coding and Billing for Cessation Treatment

Promoting Quitting

Resources for Behavioral Health Professionals

Resources for Pharmacy Professionals

  • In 2020, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that allows pharmacists to independently prescribe nicotine replacement products. In order to prescribe these drugs, pharmacists must follow protocols developed by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. Before a pharmacist is authorized to prescribe under this protocol, the pharmacist must successfully complete a training program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, such as Implementing Pharmacist Prescriptive Authority For Nicotine Replacement Medications.
  • The American Pharmacists Association published an online toolkit of videos, case studies, and a written report to assist pharmacists in administering commercial tobacco cessation interventions to clients who use commercial tobacco products: Promising Practices For Pharmacist Engagement In Tobacco Cessation Interventions

Return on Investment for Tobacco Cessation

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., causing over 6,300 deaths each year in Minnesota.1

Tobacco use has substantial direct and indirect costs for the state and the public, health care providers, employers, insurers and individuals. People who smoke have estimated health care costs that average 34 percent higher than nonsmokers.2 Spending on health care due to a smoking-related illness is estimated to cost Minnesota $3.19 billion each year.1 In addition, smoking costs Minnesota $4.3 billion in lost productivity each year.1 In total, annual costs to Minnesota’s economy from smoking are estimated in excess of $7 billion.1

In Minnesota, over $563 million of smoking-related health care costs are covered by Medicaid.3

Tobacco dependence treatment is one of the most cost-effective preventive services, providing substantial return on investment in the short and long term.4 Investments in smoking cessation lead to improved health outcomes, resulting in lower health care costs and more affordable health insurance premiums.2

An estimated 70 percent of the 40 million adult smokers in the U.S. see a health care provider each year, representing over 28 million opportunities for brief intervention and treatment. Data show that advice from health care providers increases the use of evidence-based cessation treatments and improves outcomes.5, 6

Tobacco use screening and brief intervention is one of the three most cost-effective clinical preventive services.7, 8

Research shows that people are much more likely to successfully quit tobacco use if they receive help.3 In 2018, nearly have Minnesota’s adult smokers, reported making a quit attempt in the past 12 months.9 Data show that advice from health care providers increases the use of evidence-based cessation treatments and improves outcomes.10

For most smoking cessation treatments, the benefits of providing such treatments greatly outweigh the cost of providing them.11

Cessation program expenditures can be fully offset in three years.

Over a three-year period, expenditures for smoking cessation programs in the range of $144 to $804 per smoker can be fully offset by health care cost savings.2 Greater savings will likely occur within special populations, such as pregnant women ($3 in health care costs for every $1 invested in smoking cessation treatment12) and persons with cardiac conditions ($47 during the first year and about $853 over the following seven years13). 

Smoking cessation increases productivity.

It is estimated that employees who smoke will cost self-insured employers an additional $5,816 annually, on average, including absenteeism, smoking breaks, healthcare costs and other benefits.14

Download this information: Return on Investment for Tobacco Cessation (PDF)

  • E-cigarettes and Vaping - includes links to resource pages for health care providers, schools, and parents
  • This is Quitting - a free mobile program from Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit vaping


  1. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. 2017 Health Care Costs and Smoking in Minnesota: The Bottom Line. January 2017.
  2. Making the Business Case for Smoking Cessation Programs: 2012 Update” A report by Leif Associates.
  4. Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.
  5. “The Role of Health Care Systems in Increased Tobacco Cessation,” Susan J. Curry, Paula A. Keller, C. Tracy Orleans, and Michael C. Fiore, 1/03/2008
  6. “A Practical Guide to Working with Health-Care Systems on Tobacco-Use Treatment,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006
  7. Maciosek MV, Coffield AB, Edwards NM, Flottemesch TJ, Goodman MJ, Solberg LI. Priorities among effective clinical preventive services: results of a systematic review and analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2006 Jul;31(1):52-61.
  8. Maciosek MV, Coffield AB, Flottemesch TJ, Edwards NM, Solberg LI. Greater use of preventive services in U.S. health care could save lives at little or no cost. Health Aff (Millwood). 2010 Sep;29(9):1656-60.
  9. Tobacco Use in Minnesota: 2018 Update. Minneapolis, MN: ClearWay MinnesotaSM and Minnesota Department of Health; January 2019.
  10. Curry SJ, Keller PA, Orleans CT, Fiore MC. The Role of Health Care Systems in Increased Tobacco Cessation. Annual Review of Public Health. April 2008;29:411-428.
  11. Rumberger, J., Hollenbeak, C., Kline, D. “Potential Costs and Benefits of Smoking Cessation for Minnesota.” Penn State University (2010).
  12. Ruger JP, Emmons KM. Economic evaluations of smoking cessation and relapse prevention programs for pregnant women: a systematic review. Value Health. 2008 Mar-Apr;11(2):180-90.
  13. Ong M, Glantz S. Cardiovascular health and economic effects of smoke-free workplaces, American Journal of Medicine. 2004;117:32-38.
  14. Berman M, Crane R, Seiber E, et al. Estimating the cost of a smoking employee. Tobacco Control 2014; 23(5):426-433
Updated Tuesday, 17-May-2022 09:40:30 CDT