Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012
This Week's News
This Week's News
Reports show lack of funding for smoking cessation programs, coverage
Two new national reports shine light on the need for increased funding of states' tobacco prevention and cessation programs and greater insurance coverage of cessation methods.
An annual report issued last week by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids demonstrates that the funding level for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in most states falls well below the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Only Alaska and North Dakota fund their programs at the CDC's recommended level. Just three other states provide funding that reaches half the recommended level, according to the report's ranking of state funding.
Meanwhile, states are collecting $25.7 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. Just 2 percent of this revenue is spent on programs to help smokers quit and to prevent children from using tobacco products.
"States should use this revenue on tobacco cessation and prevention programs that will help reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year," AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, said in a statement.
A related report from the American Lung Association (ALA) examines tobacco cessation coverage of state-funded health plans. Only two states' Medicaid programs provided comprehensive cessation coverage while another four states provided this coverage under their state employee health plan.
The ALA's report notes an opportunity to help slash rates of tobacco use by including comprehensive smoking cessation coverage as an essential health benefit for insurance sold through the new health insurance exchanges that will operate under the Affordable Care Act.
"Every single smoker in America, regardless of their state of residence or economic status, should have access to the help they need to quit," Dr. Lazarus said in a statement about the ALA report.
Dr. Lazarus also noted that the AMA encourages physicians to talk to their patients about tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke and to refer tobacco users to proven cessation programs.
Tobacco use remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. The AMA's Healthier Life Steps® program includes resources that physicians can use to help their patients quit using tobacco products.