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Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH, traveled to the White House on June 1 for the Cancer Moonshot Smoking Cessation Forum. The meeting highlighted the Biden Administration’s commitment to tackling the single biggest driver of cancer deaths in this country—smoking—and efforts underway across sectors to equitably expand access to effective smoking cessation support.

“My visit to the White House was a phenomenal opportunity and experience,” said Goldstein, director of the UNC Tobacco Intervention Programs in the Department of Family Medicine and a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member. “I was told that the meeting was stimulated in part due to Dr. Prabhakar’s recent visit with us at UNC discussing the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.”

White House Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy Arati Prabhakar, PhD, came to UNC Lineberger in February to discuss the Cancer Moonshot program and to learn about cancer prevention efforts at UNC. Goldstein was part of a group that presented on smoking cessation.

This was the first White House forum on smoking cessation. Leaders from the federal government, community coalitions and academic health organizations participated in discussions on the Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s upcoming cessation plan. The forum was grounded in health equity and featured the perspectives of patients and advocates who are committed to reducing the number of Americans smoking and increasing education about tools that are available for those who want to quit.

Goldstein represented a consortium of fourteen academic health and cancer centers that formulated “MATTCH – Medicare Access to Tobacco Treatment for Cessation and Health,” a proposal that underpins a planned new Cancer Moonshot Cessation Initiative addressing payment reform for smoking cessation. Consortium members sought to inform several key government decision-makers about the proposal, with the goal to have the opportunity to meet with smaller group settings in the next two or three months to discuss proposed policy options.

Prior to the forum, Goldstein met with Robert Califf, MD, Food and Drug Administration commissioner. Califf referenced Goldstein and their discussion during a televised panel, emphasizing that a major need existed to find a better way to pay for cessation, and how the cancer prevention community, broadly, had not dealt with such before.

After the televised presentations, Goldstein was part of a breakout session facilitated by an Office of Science and Technology staff member.

“I emphasized that what was missing was ‘how to pay for cessation,’ and that for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s cessation efforts to reach larger populations to provide intensive counseling and pharmacotherapy, payment reform must occur, or providers won’t have the ability to sustain the treatment,” Goldstein said. “This theme was picked up on by several others in the group and resonated strongly.”

Goldstein hopes to follow up on this meeting with consortium colleagues, including Nashville General Hospital, MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Oschner Health. The group looks to travel back to Washington for a private meeting to develop some policy options to make smoking cessation more available to people who would like to quit tobacco.

Watch the video of the forum here.