Governor Pataki Steps Up Fight In Anti-Smoking Campaign - October 1st Medicaid Recipients Will Be Eligible for Products To help Quit Smoking
Albany, September 23, 1999 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello M.D., M.P.H. today announced that Medicaid will now cover smoking cessation products (such as Zyban and Habitrol) to help eligible New Yorkers quit smoking tobacco. The new policy to have Medicaid cover these products comes on the heels of New York's intensified efforts to improve the health of New Yorkers by encouraging smokers to kick the habit.
"As Governor Pataki continues to invest historic levels of funding in our campaign to prevent young people from smoking, today's action will help adults quit smoking as well," Dr. Novello said. "It will also help reduce their risk of illnesses such as asthma, heart disease and cancer caused by tobacco products. This is another example of why New York State prides itself as a national leader in health care."
Under Governor Pataki's leadership, the State's anti–smoking campaign is being supported at the highest level in State history $8.4 million, which includes a statewide media campaign; partnerships with local governments to ensure retailers are not selling tobacco products to minors; and local youth oriented partnerships. The $8.4 million represents a 400 percent increase over the funding provided under the last year of the previous administration.
Dr. Novello said, "Today we are strengthening our fight against the use of tobacco products by releasing new, hard–hitting media advertisements and billboards to persuade smokers to think of the health of their family and themselves; we have stepped up enforcement against the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors; and we are giving Medicaid recipients a new weapon in their fight to quit smoking. It is a historic day for State and one that moves us toward our goal of continually improving life for all New Yorkers."
Dr. Novello said that the Governor is making smoking cessation a priority to help improve the health and quality of life for New York's Medicaid population. Medical research confirms that it is never too late to quit – it has been proven that a person's tobacco–related health risks are significantly reduced within a few years of not smoking – even if a person has smoked for years.
The State Health Department estimates that as many as 350,000 Medicaid recipients between the ages of 18 and 64 are current smokers. Of this, an estimated 12 percent will try to quit smoking each year.
National studies have shown that the use of nicotine replacement and other therapies increase the success rate for smokers trying to quit. The estimated success rate on the first attempt can be ten times greater for individuals using smoking cessation products than it is for smokers who try to quit without the use of such interventions.
Medicaid will now cover prescriptions for smoking cessation products, including patches, tablets, sold under the brand name Zyban, Habitrol, and nasal sprays and prescription formulations of Nicotrol.
The estimated annual cost of providing smoking cessation products to Medicaid clients is between $10 to $13 million per year. This estimated cost of preventive care will generate substantially greater savings to New York's taxpayers and the Medicaid program by reducing chronic disease and disability for Medicaid patients.9/23/99–127 OPA