As the state's new tobacco prices go into effect, more Minnesotans are making efforts to quit.
EAGAN, Minn., July 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Enrollment in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's Stop Smoking Support program has nearly tripled since the state's $1.60 tobacco tax increase took effect on July 1. Blue Cross enrolled 186 people in the first two weeks of July, compared to 69 people during the same period last year – a 170 percent increase.
"Blue Cross advocated for this legislation because price increases have proven to be the most effective way to encourage people to quit using tobacco and ultimately live longer, healthier lives," said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross. "While our members represent only a segment of Minnesota residents, this early surge in demand for our cessation services is a positive indicator that the price increase is having its desired effect."
Minnesota's $1.60 price increase is projected to help more than 36,600 Minnesota smokers quit, prevent more than 47,700 Minnesota kids from becoming addicted as adults and save 25,700 Minnesotans from premature death. The long-term health care savings are estimated at $1.65 billion.
Smoking among Minnesota adult dropped from 19.1 percent in 2003 to 16.1 percent in 2010, according to the most recent Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey. The last significant increase in tobacco prices was in August 2005, when the state's 75 cent health impact fee went into effect. Further progress to reduce smoking rates and exposure to tobacco came in October 2007, when Freedom to Breathe provisions were added to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.
Cessation support offered through Blue Cross, QUITPLAN Services and other providers will be instrumental in helping ensure the public health benefits of the recent price increase are also realized. The U.S. Public Health Service reports that quitline counseling can more than double a smoker's chances of quitting and quitline counseling combined with medication (such as nicotine replacement therapy) can more than triple the success rate.
Stop Smoking Support is available to all Blue Cross members by calling 1-888-662-2583 (BLUE). Members may also be eligible for over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy – depending on their plan. Minnesotans who are not insured through Blue Cross can obtain help through QuitPlan Services by calling 1-888-354-PLAN or visiting quitplan.com. Those who live outside Minnesota and want to quit tobacco can call 1-800-QUITNOW or visit smokefree.gov.
About the Center for Prevention
The Center for Prevention (preventionminnesota.com) at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross' long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross' historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to help build vibrant communities where healthy choices are easier and more accessible.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com), with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.
SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota