EAGAN, Minn., April 3, 2008 Blue Cross and Blue Shield ofMinnesota (Blue Cross) reports it achieved an all-time high, 12-month stopsmoking rate of 35.5 percent in 2007; meaning at least one in three memberswho enrolled in Blue Cross' stop smoking program -- 1,714 individuals -- wasstill not smoking 12 months after starting the program. The new quit raterepresents a twenty-one percent increase (six percentage points) over the 2006rate of 29.3 percent. The 35.5 percent quit rate is also more than seven timeshigher than the overall national quit rate of less than 4.7 percent. Thenational 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 resultsboth for program participants and their employers. "The success of thisprogram comes from significant improvements we've made and from the Freedom toBreathe Act," said Dr. Marc Manley, vice president and medical director forpopulation health at Blue Cross. "Now that smoking isn't allowed inrestaurants 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 ofquit medications for their employees and their dependents who are 18 or older.The best opportunity for success is achieved when the comprehensive approachof tailored coaching linked to no-cost quit medications (for example thenicotine patch, gum, and lozenge) is combined with supportive environments inthe community, at home and at the workplace. Blue Cross also offers workplacehealth improvement planning support to employers who wish to implement atobacco-free worksite policy covering buildings and grounds.
"As we recognize 'Kick Butts Day' and the six-month anniversary ofMinnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act this week, it's important that Minnesotan'sknow help is available for those who want to quit and this help improves theirchances of success," added Manley. "Everyone in the state has access to FREEphone-based quit smoking services either through their insurance plan orthrough QUITPLAN(R) Services which serves uninsured and underinsuredindividuals."
It's important to help smokers who want to quit since tobacco use is theleading cause of preventable heart disease and some cancers. It's also costly.Blue Cross estimates an average five-year health care cost savings of $5,335for 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 callQUITPLAN(R) Services at 1-888-354-PLAN (7526).
For more information on Blue Cross' stop smoking and tobacco reductionefforts visit http://www.bluecrossmn.com/preventionminnesota.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paulsuburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan andcontinues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, moreeconomical and timely availability of health services for the people ofMinnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest healthplan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota andnationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliatedcompanies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licenseeof the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go tohttp://www.bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield ofMinnesota.
SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota