BlueChoice Members Offered Help to Quit Smoking for the New Year

December 17, 2002

(Rochester, NY) BlueChoice members who want to quit smoking but feel that they can’t, now have access to an innovative new pilot program designed to help them quit. The program is a partnership between BlueCross BlueShield of the Rochester Area (BCBSRA), the Rochester Individual Practice Association (RIPA) and the Rochester Tobacco Treatment Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center (RTTC). The program offers ongoing supportive treatment and works with patients to help them understand tobacco dependence, establish their “quit plan” and elicit help from others.

A typical treatment plan includes eight contacts over six months. Ex-smoker, Diana Black said the education and support she received was key to becoming smoke-free for 18 months now. Black, 37, used this program to quit smoking after 15 years. The Brockport woman was concerned about the health risks and had tried three times to quit on her own without success.

“They introduced me to all the different smoking cessation products out there and they were great following up with me,” Black said. “They reminded me of my quit date and helped keep me on track.”

“Tobacco use remains a major health issue and a significant risk factor for people with diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and a variety of other chronic conditions,” said Edgar Black M.D., BCBSRA Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. (Please note, Dr. Black is not related to Diana Black.) “We recognize that it’s hard for our members to quit smoking and we want to help,“ said Dr. Black.

The United States Centers for Disease Control estimate that 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but feel they can’t. The Intensive Treatment of Tobacco Dependence program offers individual tobacco dependence counseling, including assessment of nicotine dependence and prescription of effective medications to aid cessation, by either a physician or nurse practitioner.

“Intensive treatments are recommended for anyone who wants to quit,” said Geoffrey Williams M.D., Ph.D., from the RTTC. “Completion more than doubles success rates compared to trying on your own or using another method.”

Dr. Williams led a research study of this technique over the past three years. BlueChoice members (over age 18) will have the chance to participate in this enhanced tobacco cessation series, providing intensive treatment targeted for people who are ready to quit smoking. BCBSRA and RIPA have partnered with Williams to offer this program to a limited number of members on a first come, first serve basis. Patients who enroll will be seen within 10 days of their initial phone call. Patients pay $5 co-pay per visit. Those members who complete all sessions will have their co-pays refunded.

This program is based on the Smoker’s Health Study and the Public Health Service’s Guidelines for Tobacco Dependence Treatment. All commercial BlueChoice plans are accepted except BlueChoice Senior and BlueChoice Option. There may be additional costs for medication prescribed to aid with cessation. Call the Rochester Tobacco Treatment Center (RTTC) at 585-922-7671, for information and appointments. ###

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Leslie White
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