Smoking Cessation Trust Celebrates 5 Years Of Helping Louisiana Smokers To Quit

NEW ORLEANS – 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 percent of the state’s adult population lights up. The U.S. average for adult smokers stands at 17.5 percent. The Smoking Cessation Trust, 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 Smoking Cessation Trust, 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 Sept. 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 eight – 11 attempts before quitting permanently) and many have successfully quit for good,” said Mike Rogers, CEO, Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services.



         With the support of the Smoking Cessation Trust 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). This is serving as a great incentive and is motivating them to increase their frequency of quit attempts, reps said.

         Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States, they said. 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 percent, 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, such as the ones in New Orleans, Alexandria, Monroe, Lafayette, the proposed smoke-free ordinance in Baton Rouge and the soon-to-be-enacted ban in Lafayette, should help improve the health of even more smokers statewide.”

         Smoking Cessation Trust partners with health systems and providers across the state to provide free smoking cessation products and services to a wider audience of potential “Scott Class” members who are ready to quit. They include: Ochsner Smoking Cessation Clinic, East Jeff General Hospital, LSU Health, West Jefferson General Hospital in New Orleans; Willis-Knighton in Shreveport; Imperial Health in Lake Charles; Rapides Foundation in Alexandria; Baton Rouge General and Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge; Cardiovascular Institute of the South, North Oaks in Hammond, St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe; Affinity Health Group in Monroe; CVS Minute Clinics; Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center; and Daughters of Charity Health Centers.



         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 & services available to those eligible through the Smoking Cessation Trust 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, reps said.



         The SCT Management Services (SCTMS) is currently on schedule to reach its goal of 210,000 members by 2022 by successfully achieving its three-fold objective:

• To locate and certify Louisiana residents who are part of the Scott Class ("Class Members");

• To identify, direct, coordinate, and integrate the delivery of the four smoking cessation services primarily through the existing clinical health care delivery system; and

• To provide class members with every opportunity to avail themselves of all the smoking cessation services throughout the 10-year duration of the Trust, removing barriers and disincentives that would hinder success.


         SCTMS will continue to focus on making significant positive contributions to encourage and expand clinician participation in smoking cessation counseling, encouraging clinicians to consistently counsel every patient who smokes, regardless of whether the patient is ready to quit now, and to identify and refer potential “Class Members” to SCTMS, reps said. SCTMS will continue to create infrastructure that will encourage coordination of the clinical delivery of healthcare and counseling during clinical encounters, with the other cessation services (Quit-line)/products [medications and NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy)] to present a clear pathway for class members to follow in their quest to stop smoking.

         The Smoking Cessation Trust is also committed to accomplishing its goal with the support of its many statewide health care partners, while being a good steward of the Trust’s funds, reps said.

         “While it means I will be out of a job in five years, it is my sincere hope that at the end of this program, we will have reached all Trust Members who want to quit, and that our state will be physically and fiscally healthy for years to come,” added Rogers.

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