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Some States Make Stopping Smoking Easier Than Others

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The best states for smokers trying to kick the habit are Maine and North Dakota, while the least quit-friendly states are Georgia and Louisiana, according to a report released Wednesday.

The annual American Lung Association report examines quit-smoking programs and treatments offered in each state and by the federal government.

Providing smokers with easy access to smoking cessation counseling and medications through health insurance plans and telephone quit-lines is essential for success. While some states and the federal government have taken important steps in helping smokers quit, significant gaps persist, according to the report.

"Progress in helping smokers quit brings real results: It saves lives and saves money," American Lung Association President and CEO Charles Connor said in an association news release.

The five most quit-friendly states are Maine, North Dakota, Delaware, Oklahoma and Wyoming. The five least quit-friendly states are Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Maryland and New Jersey, according to the report.

The investigators found access to quit-smoking treatments and services varied throughout the United States.

"The level and type of assistance available to smokers is inconsistent state-to-state, insurance plan-to-insurance plan, and smoker-to-smoker," Connor said in the news release. "By not helping all smokers, too many people are missing out on longer, happier, more productive lives."

The report called for a comprehensive approach that includes unrestricted access to the seven medications and three types of counseling recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service as proven ways to help smokers quit.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with 443,000 deaths each year from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure. The economic costs of tobacco are $193 billion a year, according to the American Lung Association.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Lung Association, news release, Dec. 7, 2011

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