Florida receives a D grade for smoking cessation coverage

The state of Florida received a D grade for its smoking cessation health care coverage  from the American Lung Association in its State of Tobacco Control 2013 report.

Florida’s state Medicaid program is under scrutiny by the ALA — although all the health plans provided by Medicaid cover individual counseling for members who wish to quit smoking, coverage for group counseling and the seven recommended medications to aid with quitting vary by plan. There are also barriers to coverage that include: requiring co-payments, annual or lifetime limits on quit attempts, requiring the use of counseling prior to using cessation medications and/or the requiring prior authorization.

Florida’s state employee health plans cover all the seven medications (the NRT gum, patch, nasal spray, inhaler and lozenge; Varenicline and Bupropion) but a co-payment is required.

Florida received an F grade for its Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding. The state’s cigarette tax also received a poor grade  — the tax for a pack of 20 cigarettes is currently $1.339.

Having adequate health care and support to quit smoking is important — especially for women. Smoking is a contributing factor to infant deaths and poor birth outcomes. Smoking during pregnancy can cause babies to be born early with a  low birthweight.  Premature births are the main cause of neonatal mortality.

The Community Action Team (CAT) in Northeast Florida aims to improve statistics like these by creating awareness among teens and young adults by implementing anti-smoking campaigns to prevent smoking during pregnancy and smoking-related deaths.