Optum, formerly known as Alere Health and Free & Clear, established the Quit for Life program within the Group Health Center for Health Promotion in 1983, after researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Group Health Research Institute (formerly the Center for Health Studies) demonstrated the efficacy and effectiveness of telephone-based smoking cessation treatment. Optum is currently the largest provider of telephone quitline services in the US, operating quitlines in 28 states and through over 750 employers and health plans, including more than 70 Fortune 500 companies, serving around 350,000 unique callers per year. In addition to providing direct quitline services, Optum is a leader in developing and conducting cessation counselor trainings for culturally diverse groups, and offers online, CME/CE-accredited health care provider trainings for utilizing the Ask, Advise & Refer intervention. Optum also continues to have a robust research and evaluation unit, which has helped advance quitline technology and build the evidence base for smoking cessation by participating in over 50 National Institutes of Health, State, and privately-funded smoking cessation trials and quitline studies, and publishing over 140 peer-reviewed papers over the past 30 years.
The University of Washington (UW), a premier public research and teaching institution located in Seattle, Washington, houses a Tobacco Studies Program, a key partner of the IQI. The UW School of Medicine and UW School of Public Health are consistently ranked among the top schools in the United States. UW partners with internationally-renowned health organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, PATH (formerly known as the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, now known only by the acronym), and the Group Health Research Institute. The School of Medicine boasts one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. UW’s interdisciplinary Global Health Department (GHD), housed within the Schools of Medicine and Public Health, currently has projects in over 90 countries and offers one of the most competitive programs of its kind. The GHD is also home to UW’s prestigious Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a reservoir of expertise in global health statistics and measurement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) is part of the Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health cluster, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Established in 1998, TFI focuses international attention and resources on the global tobacco epidemic through ongoing collaborations with other WHO departments, member states and non-governmental organizations. The WHO administers the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2003 and entered into force in 2005. As of early 2015, 180 countries (covering about 90% of the world’s population) have ratified the convention, which provides guidance and resources for the reduction of demand for tobacco as well as reduction of the supply of tobacco using evidence-based public health and policy measures as outlined in the MPOWER measures. The WHO partnered with UW and Alere in developing and implementing the initial IQI training programs, as well as co-authoring, publishing and distributing the WHO quitline training manuals.