Last week, the White House Cancer Moonshot hosted a forum to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackling the largest single driver of cancer deaths in this country – smoking – and expanding smoking cessation services for Americans who want to access them. Attendees included Administration officials, community and patient advocates, private sector leaders, researchers, health care providers, and public health workers.
The forum opened with a public session, where advocates shared their perspectives and experiences. Speakers acknowledged the significant disparities in tobacco use and cessation uptake, including by race, geography, and mental and behavioral health.
Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense highlighted ongoing work to equitably expand access to effective smoking cessation support for all Americans.
During the forum, HHS also announced that they are building out new smoking cessation efforts, with a central focus on advancing equity. These strategic actions will advance the goals of Cancer Moonshot. This summer, HHS will be gathering feedback from the public on their proposed efforts through a formal Request for Information.
Arati Prabhakar, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) called on attendees to commit to new actions to decrease cancer deaths from smoking and improve health outcomes. Dr. Danielle Carnival, Deputy Assistant to the President for the Cancer Moonshot and OSTP Deputy Director for Health Outcomes, underscored the importance of a whole-of-society approach to help Americans avoid smoking in the first place and to support Americans who want to quit.
The public session was followed by breakout sessions, with the goal of pushing forward progress on evidence-based smoking prevention efforts and improving health outcomes. The discussion centered around how organizations and individuals can better work together to more equitably provide smoking cessation services to people who want to access them.