February 20, 2012
BATON ROUGE—Louisiana state employees who want to quit smoking now have a greater likelihood of success, thanks to a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) pilot program that is offering free expanded cessation coaching through the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Louisiana, claiming the lives of nearly 6,500 Louisiana residents each year. In addition, tobacco use is a leading risk factor for a number of chronic diseases—such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease—that are life-threatening and costly to residents and to the state.
Smokers who are ready to quit are encouraged to enroll in free telephone coaching through the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), which is jointly managed by the Louisiana (DHH) Tobacco Control Program and the non-profit Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. Program participants receive free coaching and support through certified quit coaches who work with each caller to develop a personalized quit plan. Through the DHH pilot program, state employees qualify for up to five scheduled coaching sessions as well as web-based tobacco cessation services through the Quitline’s Web Coach Program. The pilot program is made possible through a federal grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Quitline is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for all Louisiana residents over the age of 13, but the number of coaching sessions offered may be limited and is based on certain qualifications, such as pregnancy or the type of insurance coverage.
“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of current smokers report that they want to quit, but only about four to seven percent will be successful if their quit attempt is unaided,” said Tiffany Netters, interim director of the DHH Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Unit. ”By using a combination of behavioral therapy like Quitline coaching along with cessation medications, someone trying to quit can more than double the chances of success.”
Most state Office of Group Benefits health plan members are eligible to receive tobacco cessation medications with no co-payments through their prescription drug coverage. The medications included in the benefit are nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) drugs, which come in the form of gum, patches, inhalers, nasal spray and lozenges, as well as the prescription medications Bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin) and Varenicline (Chantix). These U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications are known to decrease the urge to smoke and can double a smoker’s chances of quitting successfully.
The first step for an employee planning to quit should be to call the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to get registered for coaching support during the quitting process. The quit coach then develops an individualized quit plan. If a participant is interested in receiving prescription or over-the-counter cessation medications using OGB health plan benefits, his or her quit coach will guide them through the process of visiting a network physician, who will determine which cessation aid is medically appropriate for that individual. An OGB member seeking medication to quit using tobacco must then discuss their quit plan with his or her health care provider and obtain a prescription for the cessation medication. OGB health plan coverage for each of the seven FDA-approved cessation medications requires a written prescription, even for those sold over the counter.
For more information about tobacco cessation and the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline, visit www.QuitWithUsLA.org.
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