Annually in the United States, more than 480,000 people die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country, according to the American Lung Association.

Partnership Aims to Reduce Smoking Rates in Nine States

The American Lung Association announced it is partnering with the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., to help smokers in nine states -- Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nevada -- quit smoking.

The American Lung Association announced it is partnering with the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., to help smokers in nine states -- Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nevada -- quit smoking. Their Addressing Tobacco Use Disparities in Priority Populations initiative will give people better access to effective tobacco cessation services such as Freedom From Smoking®, according to ALA.

"We have made tremendous progress against tobacco addiction, and the smoking rate is half of what it was in 1964, but not everyone has benefited equally. Some groups have been historically underserved with tobacco control efforts, and as a result now have a higher smoking rate than the general population," said Harold P. Wimmer, national president and CEO of the association. "It's important to address this disparity to prevent or reduce tobacco-related illnesses in all parts of our society. With generous support from the Anthem Foundation, the Lung Association is working with local partners to address this unmet need for these priority populations."

Separately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products will host the second biomarker workshop on April 4-5 in Silver Spring, Md., to discuss how to identify and implement the use of biomarkers for the purposes of tobacco product regulation. According to FDA's announcement, biomarkers "have broad application at FDA/CTP, including the potential to inform product reviews. For example, studying the effects of tobacco product use on biomarkers may provide information on potential health risks of a new product within a relatively short timeframe. Thus, biomarkers could play a critical role in the review of premarket applications of new tobacco products that may not have long-term epidemiological studies on health risks."

The objectives of the "Biomarkers of Potential Harm" workshop are to identify approaches to assessing and selecting biomarkers of potential harm; the processes of identifying biomarkers of potential harm that may be useful in tobacco product regulation; and areas of research which may further strengthen knowledge about biomarkers of potential harm.

Annually in the United States, more than 480,000 people die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country, according to ALA. "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, but we know that quitting can be difficult. That's why access to effective quit smoking methods is vital to help people quit for good," said Dr. Craig Samitt, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Anthem, Inc. "Through this partnership with the Lung Association, we look forward to bringing needed support and resources to populations at most risk to help them quit smoking, improve their lung health, and prevent tobacco-related illnesses."

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