Tobacco cessation services and screening for Medi-Cal patients

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that healthcare providers ask all individuals ages 18 years and older about tobacco use, and that providers offer tobacco cessation interventions to users. Providers should also offer tailored counseling to pregnant women who smoke. Finally, interventions, education, or brief counseling should be offered to prevent initiation of tobacco use in school-aged children and adolescents.

Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan is responsible for ensuring that primary care physicians (PCP) and their qualified staff implement the interventions outlined in California Department of Health Care Services, Health and Human Services Agency's Policy Letter 16-014 (PDF, 122 KB).

How can I help my patients stop tobacco use?

1. Identify, initially and thereafter annually, all members of any age who use tobacco products or are exposed to tobacco smoke and document this information in the member's medical record. You may use the Staying Healthy Assessment (SHA) or an equivalent approved assessment.

2. Offer FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications to non-pregnant adults of any age. The medications include:

  • Bupropion SR (without prior authorization)
  • Varenicline
  • nicotine gum, inhaler, lozenge, nasal spray, and patch

Members qualify for:

  • A 90-day treatment regimen of medications without other restrictions.
  • Medication for at least two separate quit attempts per year, with no mandatory break required.
  • Medication without counseling if the member does not want counseling.

3. Refer tobacco users of any age to individual, group, and telephone counseling. Members qualify for four counseling sessions of at least ten minutes for at least two separate quit attempts each year, without prior authorization. You may:

4. Ask all pregnant women if they use tobacco or are exposed to tobacco smoke. If a smoker, offer at least one face-to-face counseling session per quit attempt, and refer the member to a tobacco cessation quit line.

Counseling services cover 60 days post-delivery, plus any additional needed days to end the respective month. Smoking cessation medications are not recommended during pregnancy.

5. Provide education, including brief counseling to children and adolescents, to prevent tobacco initiation in school-aged children and adolescents, in accordance with AAP Bright Futures periodicity schedule and anticipatory guidance.

6. Review the following provider training information:

Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan monitors provider performance in implementing these tobacco cessation interventions through a number of processes, including Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys, medical record review, and the Facility Site Review process (PDF, 17 MB).

Where can I find other resources?
What resources are available to my patients?

Download and print the "You can stop smoking" brochure:

For additional resources, patients should review materials available under the “Smoking cessation” topic on the Health education materials page or call Member Services and ask for the Health Education Department.

How do I get more information?

Contact Blue Shield Promise Health Education Department:

 Phone: (323) 827-6036, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday



Behavioral Health Services

Blue Shield Promise behavioral health services cover mental health, substance use disorder, and autism spectrum disorder behavioral health treatment.

Population Health Management

Our Disease Management Program provides education, care coordination, and support for members with certain chronic conditions.

Health education for Medi-Cal providers

Find information and health education materials for your Medi-Cal patients.

Health education materials for members

Find health education brochures and videos available to Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan members.

Health and wellness programs for Medi-Cal members

Help your patients find resources for staying fit, managing chronic conditions like asthma or high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and more.

Health assessment guidelines for Medi-Cal providers

Learn how to conduct health assessments, find age-appropriate patient questionnaires and forms, and related provider training materials.

Provider Connection

Access network provider tools on Provider Connection website.

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