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Blue Cross' Stop-Smoking Program Achieves All-Time High Quit Rate
Date:4/3/2008

Success due to implementation of best practices in stop smoking strategies

EAGAN, Minn., April 3, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) reports it achieved an all-time high, 12-month stop smoking rate of 35.5 percent in 2007; meaning at least one in three members who enrolled in Blue Cross' stop smoking program -- 1,714 individuals -- was still not smoking 12 months after starting the program. The new quit rate represents a twenty-one percent increase (six percentage points) over the 2006 rate of 29.3 percent. The 35.5 percent quit rate is also more than seven times higher than the overall national quit rate of less than 4.7 percent. The national quit rate includes all smokers who quit by any means in a year, including program participation, medications, or with no assistance.

Blue Cross' stop-smoking program consistently yields meaningful results both for program participants and their employers. "The success of this program comes from significant improvements we've made and from the Freedom to Breathe Act," said Dr. Marc Manley, vice president and medical director for population health at Blue Cross. "Now that smoking isn't allowed in restaurants and bars, it's a little easier for smokers to quit."

In May 2007 Blue Cross rolled-out its enhanced stop-smoking program where, in addition to the phone and web-based coaching, employers cover the cost of quit medications for their employees and their dependents who are 18 or older. The best opportunity for success is achieved when the comprehensive approach of tailored coaching linked to no-cost quit medications (for example the nicotine patch, gum, and lozenge) is combined with supportive environments in the community, at home and at the workplace. Blue Cross also offers workplace health improvement planning support to employers who wish to implement a tobacco-free worksite policy covering buildings and grounds.

"As we recognize 'Kick Butts Day' and the six-month anniversary of Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act this week, it's important that Minnesotan's know help is available for those who want to quit and this help improves their chances of success," added Manley. "Everyone in the state has access to FREE phone-based quit smoking services either through their insurance plan or through QUITPLAN(R) Services which serves uninsured and underinsured individuals."

It's important to help smokers who want to quit since tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable heart disease and some cancers. It's also costly. Blue Cross estimates an average five-year health care cost savings of $5,335 for each fewer adult nonsmoker in the Blue Cross member population.

Call 1-888-662-BLUE (2583) to enroll in Blue Cross' stop-smoking program. Individuals without health care coverage or who may be underinsured can call QUITPLAN(R) Services at 1-888-354-PLAN (7526).

For more information on Blue Cross' stop smoking and tobacco reduction efforts visit http://www.bluecrossmn.com/preventionminnesota.

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
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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