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Massachusetts' 'Model' Tobacco Cessation Benefit Spurs Unprecedented Drop in Smoking Rates, Heart Attacks, Asthma, and Birth Complications
Date:11/18/2009

anding cessation benefits.

"As the nation debates the future of its health care system, the national significance of this research cannot be understated," said Robert J. Gould, PhD, President and CEO of Partnership for Prevention, a national organization that advances policies and practices to prevent disease and improve the health of all Americans. "These findings demonstrate that prudent investments in preventive health today will have a dramatic and positive effect on our health care system tomorrow."

MTCP and MassHealth worked together to design a model benefit that includes all FDA-approved medications to quit smoking, behavioral counseling, and features very low co-pays to reduce barriers to access. Beginning in July 2006, MassHealth began providing coverage of smoking cessation as part of the state's health care reform initiative. MTCP promoted the new benefit through radio and transit ads and extensive community outreach. The benefit was introduced into an environment that encourages quitting smoking: Massachusetts has smoke-free workplaces, high cigarette taxes, and a non-smoking social norm, all of which contribute to smokers wanting to quit.

"The significance of this research demonstrates how important it is to provide comprehensive tobacco cessation services to smokers and to make sure they know about them," Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach said. "We know that smokers who get support and use stop-smoking medicines like the patch are more than twice as likely to be able to quit for good as those who try to quit on their own. By introducing these benefits to members of MassHealth and making sure they know about them, we are helping people to break their nicotine addiction."

Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of illness and death in the Commonwealth and in the United States. More than 8,000 Massachusetts residents die annually from the effects of smoking, and tobacco use
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SOURCE Partnership for Prevention
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