Washington In 17 states where the federal government spent $128 million to discourage tobacco use, smoking dropped by about 3 percentage points over eight years, just over half a point more than in states without the program.
The program was responsible for reducing the number of smokers in the target states by about 104,000, estimated Frances A. Stillman, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Translating the results to the entire nation, the program, called the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study, or ASSIST, would have cut the number of smokers by about 278,700, said Stillman, first author of a study appearing today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The anti-smoking program trained local advocacy groups to lobby for passage of higher cigarette excise taxes and to promote regulations for smoke-free environments. The program also mounted a public relations effort to counter an estimated $47 billion spent by the industry to market tobacco products during the study period and included efforts to limit underage access to tobacco.
States included in the study were Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.