American Lung Association in California Supports SB 220

Statement by Jane Warner, President and CEO Supporting SB 220 (Yee) To Require Smoking Cessation Coverage

Sacramento, CA (March 12, 2010)

The American Lung Association in California is pleased to support Senate Bill 220, which will help more smokers quit, and make California a healthier place to live.

It's time California re-doubled its efforts to help the nearly four million smokers to quit. Right now, we are failing people who want to quit as highlighted by the "D" grade earned in Cessation Coverage by the state in the American Lung Association's recent State of Tobacco Control Report. It's time to raise the grade.
The American Lung Association believes that health care plans have an obligation to fully cover comprehensive smoking cessation services for all their members, including state Medicaid programs, state employee health plans and private employer-provided health insurance. People who smoke must have access to all tobacco cessation treatments recommended by the health experts, and not just one or some of them. We know that a person’s chance of successfully quitting more than doubles when an evidence-based tobacco cessation service or treatment is used, such as those proposed in SB 220.

Despite our best efforts, 32,000 kids will become regular smokers this year and one-third will die of a smoking-related illness. We also know that in California, the vast majority of smokers want to quit, and annually, 75 percent try to stop. As such, it is critical that we expand the tools available to reach current smokers with cessation resources, including those smokers who belong to health care service plans.

Each year, tobacco costs California $18 billion in health care and lost productivity, billions the state cannot afford. Yet we know that providing comprehensive cessation services and treatments not only will improve the health of smokers and save lives, it will provide economic benefits -- to insurers, employers, government, taxpayers and smokers themselves. For example, the cost of providing coverage equalizes after three years, and after five years, the benefits exceed the costs.

Ensuring that all Californians have access to proven smoking cessation services and treatments is a win-win. It improves people’s health while reducing health care costs. The American Lung Association in California looks forward to working with Senator Yee to pass his Senate Bill 220 this legislative session.