Money Going Up In Smoke? Cessation Strategies For The New Year

The CDC reports more than 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking, and that this amounts to $170 billion in direct medical costs a year.


Louisiana is addicted to smoking, and the craving is costing us all.

As of last Friday, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control found a pack of cigarettes could sell as high as $8.41 statewide. That means a pack-a-day habit could cost you about $252.30 a month, $3,069.65 a year and $30,696.50 over a decade.

According to the most recent United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, Louisiana is ranked last of all 50 states for its overall health, due in part to 23.1 percent of its adult population that lights up. The national average is 17.1 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States; smoking-related illness costs more than $300 billion each year; costs nearly $170 billion for direct medical care for adults; and costs more than $156 billion in lost productivity, including $5.6 billion in lost productivity due to secondhand smoke exposure.

The CDC calculates about 249 billion cigarettes were sold across the nation in 2017, and online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal Statista found electronic cigarette sales wafted from $2.9 billion in 2017 to $3.6 billion in 2018.

Locally, Mike Rogers, the CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services, said tobacco costs Louisiana $1.89 billion in health care expenditures and $2.49 billion in lost productivity annually. He cautions Louisianans, especially those looking to extinguish their habit by switching to vaping and younger consumers jumping on the more affordable e-cig trend, from smoking away their futures.

“With existing and potential smokers now being convinced on a daily basis that ‘safer somehow equals safe’ when it comes to new, high-tech cessation tools, unfortunately, we will continue to see a steady rise of Louisiana citizens smoking at even higher rates,” he said. “To combat this challenge, the Trust continues to help people face their challenges by offering eligible smokers a variety of free products and services, as well as advocating for a rise in the age in which young people can purchase tobacco products to 21, to protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction to nicotine. These efforts are designed to help people kick, or never start, a nicotine addiction. To date, the Smoking Cessation Trust has enrolled more than 95,000 members with a goal of 200,000 by 2022.”

The Smoking Cessation Trust is the result of a court judgment in the Scott v. American Tobacco Co. class action lawsuit. 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 “Scott” plaintiff class. All Louisiana residents who smoked a cigarette before Sept. 1, 1988, can register for the court-established and court-supervised smoking cessation program and benefit from free cessation medications, nicotine replacement therapy, individual and 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 eight to 11 attempts before quitting permanently – and many have successfully quit for good,” said Rogers.

Before your New Year’s resolution to quit ends up in the ashtray, Rogers recommends five steps to “kick butt” and start saving money:


1 – Set A Quit Date

Whether you chose Tuesday, January 1, or next Tuesday, or the Tuesday after that, pick a date to quit smoking that gives you enough time to prepare. Rogers suggests a time when you won’t be particularly busy, stressed or tempted to smoke.


2 – Tell Everyone You’re Trying To Quit

Rogers said telling family, friends and coworkers about a quit attempt can increase your chances of success. By sharing the kind of support you’re looking for, you can get those closest to you to be involved in the withdrawal process. And if you can, find a match, someone to quit with you, because there is strength, and perseverance, in numbers.


3 – Plan For Challenges While Quitting

Quitting doesn’t only mean curbing nicotine cravings. It’s also about filtering through habitual tendencies. Rogers recommends going to a group workshop run by a certified tobacco treatment specialist (CTTS) where you can learn how to work through triggers including stress, boredom and nervousness without reaching for a cigarette. Many major hospitals across Louisiana offer cessation counseling.


4 – Smoke Out All Cigarettes, Tobacco From Your Home, Car And Workplace

Rogers said removing things that remind you of smoking will get you ready to quit including cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays, and the ashtray and lighter in your car.

He said visit a dentist to rid your teeth of tobacco stains, don’t keep an “emergency” pack of cigarettes around and try to remove all the cigarette smoke smells you can from your drapes and clothes and your car’s interior. Rogers said you’ll be less tempted to smoke if you don’t smell cigarette smoke.


5 – Seek Nicotine Replacement Therapy Or Pharmaceutical Help

Smokers should discuss cessation treatments with their doctor. Rogers said the Smoking Cessation Trust provides access to all recommended cessation methods through their provider partners across Louisiana, but your personal doctor, who knows your medical history, can suggest and prescribe pharmaceuticals or a nicotine replacement therapy that will work best for you. Doctors can also talk about the benefits of quitting and what to expect.


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