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Blue Cross' Stop Smoking Phone Coaching Enrollments Jumped in October
Date:12/10/2007

New Statewide, Smoke-Free Law Triggers Calls to Quitline

EAGAN, Minn., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The state's largest health plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), recorded that more of its members sought help to quit smoking in October, according to enrollment data reported by Blue Cross' telephone coaching quitline. Stop-smoking quitline enrollments increased from 368 in September 2007 to 525 in October 2007 -- nearly a 43 percent increase. This October's number represents a 28 percent increase from a year ago, when the program enrolled 410 members.

"October 1 marked the start of Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act and we saw an immediate increase in calls to enroll in our quitline coaching services," reported Marc Manley, M.D., vice president and medical director for population health at Blue Cross. "It's encouraging to see Minnesotans seeking more help to quit. Smokers who get help to quit are much more likely to quit successfully than those who go it alone," noted Manley. "It's one of the reasons we were supportive of the new law and worked hard to help get it passed."

Blue Cross also observed claims for over-the-counter quit-smoking medications nearly tripled in comparison to a year ago, increasing from 3,354 claims in October 2006 to 10,024 claims in October 2007. To support people trying to quit, Blue Cross increased promotions of its telephone coaching quitline and enhanced its employer-based stop smoking program. The company also worked with other health plans and organizations that offer quitlines in the state to develop a new Minnesota Clinic Fax Referral Program that makes it easier for physicians to refer patients to stop smoking programs.

The combination of multiple strategies is what really makes the biggest impact in helping people quit smoking. "At Blue Cross we approach reducing tobacco use from all angles -- providing support to individuals, working with community organizations and employers to provide more supportive environments, and supporting legislation like Freedom to Breathe and higher prices on cigarettes," said Manley. "With a multifaceted approach we can reduce tobacco use, save lives and save money."

For more information on what Blue Cross is doing to reduce tobacco use, visit http://www.bluecrossmn.com/preventionminnesota. Blue Cross' stop-smoking program is available to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota members at no charge. Call 1-888-662-BLUE (2583).

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: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to http://www.bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.


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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
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