Blue Cross Embeds Weight Coaching into Stop-Smoking Support Program

Jan 19, 2011, 10:49 ET from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Helps Members Avoid Weight Gain, Common Barrier to Quitting

EAGAN, Minn., Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Smokers who resolved to quit in 2011 but were worried about the side effect of weight gain now have more support to succeed. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) has added a new weight maintenance coaching feature at no additional cost to members who use its Stop-Smoking Support program.

Smokers rate the fear of gaining weight as one of their leading barriers to quitting tobacco. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Smoking Cessation, more than 60 percent of callers to a quit line said they had concerns about weight gain after quitting smoking. In response to these concerns, Blue Cross is offering members who participate in the Stop-Smoking Support program up to three optional coaching calls with a weight coach to address their weight gain concerns as they quit tobacco. This added program feature will increase both the effectiveness and participant satisfaction with the Stop-Smoking Support program.

"We're excited that we were able to make this feature available to our members at no cost, because individuals who use the optional weight coaching calls are more successful at quitting smoking and less likely to gain weight than individuals who do not take advantage of the support," said Marc Manley, M.D., chief prevention officer for Blue Cross.  

Helping smokers quit is critical for Minnesota, because each year smoking is responsible for 5,135 deaths and costs $2.87 billion to treat the diseases and conditions related to smoking – such as cancer, emphysema and heart diseases. This economic impact is borne by all Minnesotans and equates to $554 for every man, woman and child in the state.

Blue Cross is a leader when it comes to implementing strategies to reduce the harms of tobacco. In addition to individual support to quit, the health company has worked alongside other Minnesota health organizations to support passage of a statewide, smoke-free law, raise the price of tobacco and protect youth from traditional and nontraditional tobacco products. These efforts and many others are having positive effects, as Minnesota's smoking rate has declined from 22 percent in 1999 to 17 percent in 2007. But much work remains. Approximately 634,000 Minnesota adults still smoke as do another 56,000 Minnesota high school students. The tobacco industry continues to spend millions each year marketing its products to youth, women and populations that experience health disparities, and there has been a concerning rise in the number of people using multiple forms of tobacco.

Blue Cross encourages smokers to use the new year as an opportunity to attempt to quit, even if they have tried and been unsuccessful in the past; it often takes numerous attempts before success is achieved. Blue Cross members have free access to the Stop-Smoking Support program with the added weight coaching feature. Call 1-888-662-2583 (BLUE) to get started or visit for more information. Uninsured or underinsured Minnesotans can still call QUITPLAN® Services at 1-888-354-PLAN for cessation counseling.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, 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. Go to to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota