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Tobacco Cessation Services

Date: 03/14/17

Quitting tobacco is one of the most important things your patients can do to protect their health. It can also be the most difficult to accomplish. Studies show that using interventions like individual, group and/or telephone counseling and medications can improve success rates.

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recently updated their Comprehensive Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Services for Medi-Cal Beneficiaries All Plan Letter (APL). Here is an overview of the requirements and coverage for tobacco cessation services (Note: the APL does not apply to e-cigarettes):

What’s Required?

  1. DHCS requires that providers must:
  2. Institute a tobacco user identification system as recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.
  3. Identify (initially and annually) all members (of any age) who use tobacco products and note this use in the member’s medical records.
  4. Note: Smoking status can be assessed annually through the use of the Staying Healthy Assessment - which is the DHCS approved Individual Health Education and Behavioral Assessment.
  5. Ask tobacco users about their current tobacco use and document in their medical record at every visit.
  6. Ask all pregnant members if they use tobacco or are exposed to tobacco smoke.
  7. Offer all pregnant members who use tobacco at least one face-to-face tobacco cessation counseling session per quit attempt.
  8. Ensure pregnant members who use tobacco are referred to a tobacco cessation quit line, such as the California Smoker’s Helpline.
  9. Refer to the tobacco cessation guidelines by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) before prescribing tobacco cessation medications during pregnancy.
  10. Provide interventions, including education or counseling, in an attempt to prevent initiation of tobacco use in school-aged children and adolescents in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures periodicity schedule and anticipatory guidance.

What Tobacco Cessation Services Are Covered?

California Health & Wellness covers individual, group and telephone counseling for members of any age who want to quit using tobacco. Four 10 minute counseling sessions for two separate quit attempts are covered each year without prior authorization. 

The following FDA-approved medications are covered:

  • Buproprion SR                                   
  • Nicotine gum                          
  • Nicotine inhaler
  • Nicotine lozenge                    
  • Nicotine nasal spray
  • Nicotine patch
  • Varenicline

What Resources Are Available?

  • For members who use tobacco products, you can:  
  • Refer them to the California Smoker’s Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS.
  • Encourage them to participate in a tobacco cessation program offered by California Health & Wellness. Members can call Member Services for more information. 1-877-658-0305 For TTY, contact California Relay by dialing 711 and provide the Member Services number: 1-877-658-0305.
  • Refer them to a local community resource. (See the table below)

County Resource


Alpine County Tobacco Education and Prevention

530-694-2146 ext. 242

Amador County Tobacco Reduction of Amador County


Butte County Tobacco Education Program


Calaveras County Tobacco Prevention Program


Colusa County Tobacco Education Program


El Dorado County Tobacco Use Prevention Program


Glenn County Tobacco Control Program


Imperial County Tobacco Education Project


Inyo County Tobacco Control Program


Mariposa County Tobacco Education Program


Mono County Health Department


Nevada County - American Lung Association


Placer County - American Lung Association


Plumas County Tobacco Reduction Program


Sierra County Human Services Tobacco Prevention


Sutter County Public Health


Tehama County Tobacco Education Program


Tuolumne County Tobacco Education & Prevention Program


Yuba County Health and Human Services Department


Clinical Practice Guidelines

Training/CME Opportunities

Tobacco Cessation Tools & Resources

Visit the California Health & Wellness website at for more information and resources.