Helping Smokers Quit: State Cessation Coverage

(November 9, 2010)

Quitting smoking is not easy, but there are many tools that can help smokers succeed. A new American Lung Association report finds that millions of Americans will get needed help to quit smoking, thanks to the newly enacted U.S. health care law. Unfortunately, millions of other smokers still cannot easily get treatments to help them quit. It’s now up to states to bridge the gap, and studies show that it can be done without breaking their budgets.

Our new report, Helping Smokers Quit: State Cessation Coverage provides an overview of smoking cessation (quit-smoking) services and treatments offered in each state by public and private health care plans and the impact of the federal health care law. Parts of the new health care law took effect in 2010, and states are already making changes to their public and private health care systems as they implement the law.

Every year 443,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death. Quitting smoking is the single best thing a smoker can do to improve his or her health.

As anyone who has tried it knows, quitting smoking is hard, and often takes many, many tries. Evidence shows that smokers are most successful in quitting when they get help using proven treatments. But, smokers don’t always know where to get the help they need. This new report and the accompanying state-specific information will help smokers find cessation resources available to them.

Far from busting a state’s budget, helping smokers quit can actually be a money-saving investment for states. A recent study by researchers at Penn State University found that helping smokers quit not only saves lives, but also offers favorable economic benefits to states. The American Lung Association calls on each state to provide all Medicaid recipients, state employees and those with private insurance with comprehensive, easily-accessible tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

Comprehensive coverage means providing easy access to the seven cessation medications and three forms of counseling recommended to treat nicotine addiction by the U. S. Public Health Service (PHS). These medications include over-the-counter and prescription nicotine-replacement-therapies and two non-nicotine prescription drugs:  bupropion and varenicline. According to the PHS Guideline, counseling should include at least four individual, group or telephone therapy sessions lasting no less than 10 minutes each.

To see what is covered for smokers in your state, see the state-specific information here. Click here to download the entire report.

The American Lung Association is committed to helping smokers quit. Through our programs like Freedom from Smoking® , Not-On-Tobacco (N-O-T) and Quitter in You campaign, we offer several free and low cost options that help tens of thousands of people each year. To learn more, click here.

You can make a difference! To tell your state policymakers to make providing smoking cessation treatment a priority, click here. To get involved in our work in other ways, click here. To make a donation to support our fight for healthy lungs and clean air click here.