NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Smoking Cessation Trust (SCT) is celebrating completion of its fifth year of offering free cessation products and services to eligible Louisiana smokers, many of whom have made the commitment to do one of the hardest things they will probably ever do in their lives—quit smoking.
Louisiana currently ranks 43 (up three spots from 46 in 2015) out of 50 states for tobacco use (49 for overall health) according to the 2016 America’s Health Rankings® Report from the United Health Foundation.
Presently, 21.9% of the state’s adult population lights up.
The U.S. average for adult smokers stands at 17.5%.
The SCT, which began registering eligible recipients in July 2012, has members in every parish of the state and is working towards its goal of helping more than 210,000 Louisianans become smoke-free by 2022. To date, the Trust has helped nearly 75,000 smokers attack their nicotine addictions.
The SCT, now starting its sixth year of its 10-year program, is the result of a court judgment in a class action lawsuit entitled Scott v. American Tobacco Company. The judgment became final in 2011 and ordered certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide, 10-year smoking cessation program to benefit Louisiana smokers who are members of the plaintiff class (the "Scott Class").
The recipient of the award was a court-established and court-supervised smoking cessation program to benefit all Louisiana residents who smoked a cigarette before September 1, 1988. This Louisiana program is the only one of its kind in the nation.
Applicants who register for the smoking cessation program and are approved (usually in one day) as qualified recipients will be eligible to receive any of the following cessation services completely free: cessation medications (such as Zyban®), nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patch, lozenge, inhaler, nasal spray), individual/ group cessation counseling, telephone quit-line support, and/or intensive cessation support services.
“Over the course of our first five years of encouraging eligible Louisiana smokers to quit by using the free products and services we provide, program results suggest that participants are more often successful in their quit attempts (The CDC suggests it takes 8–11 attempts before quitting permanently) and many have successfully quit for good,” said Mike Rogers, CEO, SCT Management Services.
With the support of the SCT and numerous cessation programs across the state, smokers are beginning to realize that the benefits of quitting are not only physical, but financial (pack-a-day smokers in Louisiana can save, on-average, nearly $2,000 dollars annually).
Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. There are immediate benefits for those who stop smoking including return to heart rate and blood pressure normality, improved circulation, improved lung function, and improved smell and taste.
Long-term benefits to non-smokers include reducing the chance of dying prematurely from smoking related diseases by 60%, a lower risk of stroke, and improvement in overall physical appearance.
“Presently, $1.89 billion is spent in annual health care costs in Louisiana as a direct result of smoking, which is a major cause of cardiovascular related illnesses and cancer diagnoses,” said Tonia Moore, director, The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “With tobacco use remaining the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the US, in particular Louisiana, smoke-free policies should help improve the health of even more smokers statewide.”
Louisiana presently ranks 35th in the nation for the highest cigarette tax. According to Mike Rogers, the Trust tends to see more smokers take advantage of societal mandates, such as cigarette tax increases, municipal smoking bans or health observances like Kick Butts Day and Great American Smokeout, to access the free products and services available to those eligible through the SCT to help them quit cigarettes.
A 22-cent cigarette tax increase, like the one recently proposed by Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R)-West Monroe, would not only provide much-needed dollars to the state’s coffers, but could help improve both the physical and financial health of all Louisianans.
The SCT Management Services (SCTMS) is currently on schedule to reach its goal of 210,000 members by 2022.
For more information, to see video testimonials of former smokers or to sign up for the Smoking Cessation Trust, visit www.smokefreela.org, or call 504-529-5665 or toll-free at 1-855-259-6346.
Posted on Mon, July 3, 2017
by The Lafourche Gazette