Mass. Anti-Smoking Efforts Get National Attention

The New York Times reports that the state's anti-smoking campaign for the poor appears to be working so well that several lawmakers are pushing to include a similar plan as part of national health reform legislation.

Reporter Abby Goodnough writes that while the results of the tobacco cessation program have not yet been peer-reviewed, the program, which gives virtually free counseling and prescription drugs to smokers on Medicaid trying to quit, is being hailed as a success locally:

New state data show a steep drop in the smoking rate among poor people. When the program started, about 38 percent of poor Massachusetts residents smoked. By 2008, the smoking rate for poor residents had dropped to about 28 percent, a decrease of about 30,000 people in two and a half years, or one in six smokers, said Lois Keithly, director of the state’s Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.

There are also indications that the drop has lowered rates of hospitalization for heart attacks and emergency room visits for asthma attacks, she said.

This program aired on December 16, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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