TO THE EDITOR: I was pleased to read the Press-Republican's article "Medicaid recipients can get help to stop smoking," which details the new cessation benefit now available to all New York Medicaid recipients.
This new benefit is good news for the many smokers now on Medicaid who want desperately to quit smoking but lack the tools and resources they need to succeed.
For too long, coverage for smoking cessation has been woefully inadequate in New York, earning the state an "F" in the Lung Association's annual State of Tobacco Control report.
Given that Medicaid recipients have a smoking rate nearly twice that of the general population, it is critical that every effort be made to reach these smokers. In addition to further expanding cessation benefits and removing barriers to coverage, we must adequately fund the state's Tobacco Control Program, which focuses much of its efforts on reaching this population through hard-hitting targeted television advertisements.
While the smoking rate in New York has been on the decline, more than 25,000 New Yorkers are still dying every year from tobacco-caused disease. The Lung Association supports further expanding cessation coverage to all New Yorkers so that we can reduce the terrible toll tobacco inflicts upon our state residents.
In the meantime, in addition to accessing the services offered by the NYS Smokers' Quitline, smokers wanting to quit may also enroll in the Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking online program, accessible at ffsonline.org. The program, which is an adaptation of the Lung Association's group clinic that has helped thousands of smokers quit, is available any time of day and anywhere you have internet access.
Those with questions about quitting smoking can also call our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.
Dr. Irwin Berlin
Board Chair American Lung Association in New York Albany