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Help is Available for Smokers Who Want to Quit as Minnesota's Smoke-Free Law Takes Effect Oct. 1
Date:9/28/2007

Statement from Mark W. Banks, M.D., CEO of Blue Cross

EAGAN, Minn., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- "As the state implements the new smoke-free law on October 1, Minnesotans should know FREE support is available for anyone who wants to quit smoking and that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota stands ready to help its members with the BluePrint for Health(R) stop-smoking program," said Mark W. Banks, M.D., CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross).

"Historically, when other states have gone smoke-free, requests for help to quit smoking have increased. We expect the same thing to happen here in Minnesota. Quitting is hard, but with medication and phone coaching, a smoker's odds of quitting can be greatly improved."

Since the BluePrint for Health(R) program's inception in May of 2000, Blue Cross has enrolled nearly 35,000 members with an average quit rate of 29 percent. Nationally, only around 5 percent of smokers are successful in their quit attempts.

"The negative health effects of secondhand smoke are staggering," Banks continued. "More than $215 million is spent each year in Minnesota to treat health conditions caused by exposure to secondhand smoke and another 580 deaths are caused by secondhand smoke exposure. Knowing what's at risk, we're pleased that Minnesota has become the 20th state to protect all workers from the harms of secondhand smoke," Banks concluded.

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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