How much does a pack of cigarettes cost today? How much does treatment for smoking-related illnesses cost an average smoker each year? How much does a smoking cessation program cost?
I only know the answer to one of those questions, because a few months ago I made an offer to a loved one to pay for a full course of patches or other smoking cessation program if they would stop smoking. My offer came in conjunction with a dentist’s orders to stop smoking, at least temporarily, after some pretty extensive oral surgery. I figured if ever the time was right to give the offer a try, it was right then, when smoking was seriously contraindicated due to the complications it could cause following surgery.
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, my offer was declined. My loved one still smokes, and can probably answer the other two questions above if you asked. But I was reminded of this experience when I read new research from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention this week.
Smokers more likely to quit if help is free
According to research published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the CDC, “Insurance coverage of evidence-based cessation treatments leads to increases in quit attempts, use of cessation treatments, and successful smoking cessation.”
This research focused in particular on patients who were enrolled in Medicaid. In states where smoking cessation programs were covered, smokers were more likely to quit.
Although offering free smoking cessation programs to Medicaid recipients may have a large upfront cost, the reduction in the cost of treatments for smoking-related illnesses could add up to a greater savings over time. It is a mathematical proposition many states are juggling in today’s tight economy.
A consideration for families
The cost of a loved one’s smoking habit could easily fall on family members, particularly as they age. Health problems that develop as a result of smoking could be very costly, in terms of medications, treatments, surgeries, and nursing care.
When one considers how much continued smoking could cost in the long run, it may be well worth the cost of offering your loved one assistance in paying for a smoking cessation program now. Of course, you can’t likely force them to accept the gift, but if the cost of smoking cessation programs is all that is standing in their way, much like many of the patients in the CDC study, your offer could be all it takes to get them to quit.
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