HenriettaPost.com: Report: NY ranked 16th as quit-friendly state for smokers


December 12, 2011

By Melissa Daniels, staff writer

Messenger Post

MPNnow.com —

A new report released by the American Lung Association says New York, among other states, needs to provide more resources for those trying to quit smoking.

The "Helping Smokers Quit: Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2011" ranking puts New York as 16th in the nation as a quit-friendly state, tying with Massachusetts, Indiana and New Hampshire. The report says also says people enrolled in Medicaid smoke at higher rates than the general population — 36.5 percent versus 22.7 percent for ages 18-65.

In New York state, smoking is linked to the deaths of more than 25,000 people each year and 2,500 deaths are connected to secondhand smoke, according to estimates from the American Lung Association.

"The findings of this report are troubling because smoking is the leading cause of preventable death," said a statement form Irwin Berlin, M.D. board chair of the American Lung Association in New York. "We're simply not doing enough to help smokers quit either here in New York or elsewhere in the country. That needs to change if we are going to save lives."

The report says New York's Medicaid programs cover cessation prescriptions, but only offered counseling to pregnant women trying to quit smoking before 2011. This year, the program expanded to allow counseling for all enrollees, as well as added coverage for group counseling.

The report says around 4.4 percent of smokers in New York were treated in 2010.

The near future should see more resources directed toward quitting smoking. Next fall, cigarette packages will have new warning labels that encourage quitting. The graphic labels will include the 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline number. And in January of 2014, Medicaid coverage is set to expand to more members of the population, extending their resources to previously uninsured individuals.

The full report ranks the  five most quit-friendly states as Maine, North Dakota, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. The five least quit-friendly states are Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Maryland, and New Jersey.