The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) was established in 2003 to increase the rate of smoking cessation attempts and the likelihood those efforts would succeed. Although smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death and disability, clinicians underperform in smoking cessation. Furthermore, many clinical organizations, governmental agencies, and advocacy groups put little effort into smoking cessation. Initially targeted at increasing the efforts of primary care physicians, SCLC efforts expanded to include many other medical and non-physician disciplines, ultimately engaging 21 separate specialties. Most clinicians and their organizations are daunted by efforts required to become cessation experts. A compromise solution, Ask, Advise, Refer (to telephone quitlines), was crafted. SCLC also stimulated smoking cessation projects in governmental, not-for-profit, and industry groups, including the Veterans Administration, the Health Resources Services Administration, Los Angeles County, and the Joint Commission. SCLC helped CVS pharmacies to stop selling tobacco products and other pharmacies to increase smoking cessation efforts, provided multiple educational offerings, and distributed $6.4 million in industry supported smoking cessation grants to 55 organizations plus $4 million in direct SCLC grants. Nevertheless, smoking still causes 540,000 annual deaths in the US. SCLC’s work in the field of
behavioral health is described in a companion article.

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