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Smoking Cessation Coverage Bill Passes Committee

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Approved tobacco cessation medicines and services would be covered by insurance under legislation approved in a senate committee Wednesday. Proponents say the change would save lives and health care dollars.

The health statistics for Kentucky are widely known, number one in smoking rates and lung cancer deaths. Western Kentucky doctor Shawn Jones testified in support of the measure. He told health and welfare committee members there were 1,248 deaths attributed to opioid use for the year ending last May in Kentucky, compared to 8,860 smoking related deaths.

“If we’re going to use the word crisis with respect to the opioid epidemic in Kentucky, and I think we should, then we must do the same with regard to smoking,” Jones said.

With nicotine replacement therapies and counseling fully covered, Jones says that will move smokers into a quit mode sooner. Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas voted in favor of the bill, but said a more substantial action would be to pass a statewide smoking ban.

“It seems to me that if we really are serious about addressing this problem, then what we really need is a smoke free ban in Kentucky, period,” Thomas said.

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