BATON ROUGE—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana joins doctors and health care professionals throughout the state in encouraging people to use Thursday’s Great American Smokeout (Nov. 17) as their first step toward quitting the use of tobacco products.
“We urge tobacco and nicotine users in Louisiana to join millions of Americans in pledging to give up nicotine on Nov. 17, in honor of Great American Smokeout,” said Dr. Larry Simon, Blue Cross medical director. “Quitting for even a few hours can lead to quitting for a day or for longer, and that can have positive health effects within a week.”
According to the American Cancer Society, which sponsors the annual Smokeout, about 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes. Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking kills 480,000 Americans and 7,200 Louisianians each year.
Smoking causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. One fourth of the deaths from heart disease each year can be linked directly to smoking. Cigarette smoke causes damage to the lining of the blood vessels.
In addition, studies have shown that smoking tobacco increases a person’s risk of COVID-19 infection, as well as the severity of the disease. Smoking can damage the lungs and immune system, while people who quit smoking can experience positive health effects within a week, including improved lung and immune system health.
Given the health risks, doctors around the world—and right here at home—recommend quitting tobacco use. “Smoking tobacco is linked to more health problems across more body systems than pretty much any other activity,” said Dr. Simon.
“I have lost my mom and three aunts to lung cancer tied to smoking, and their deaths are always particularly painful around the holidays,” he said. “My hope is that many families can be spared this pain through events like the Great American Smokeout that help people kick this terrible habit.”
Getting Help to Quit
Blue Cross offers access to programs and services that help members quit using tobacco. Most Louisianians also have access to other resources for quitting, in addition to the Smokeout tools.
“The best time to quit using tobacco is always right now,” said Dr. Simon. “The Great American Smokeout can be that day for you, for your friend or for your relative who needs to quit. It can be the beginning of a much longer and healthier life for anyone who makes that decision and starts that journey.”
Most Blue Cross plans cover at low or no cost certain products (like skin patches) or drugs that help members quit tobacco. To find out how these services are covered on your plan, log into your Blue Cross member account at www.bcbsla.com or call Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
Blue Cross offers its members health coaching and support through its Care Management programs. The company’s in-house clinical team of nurses, dietitians and pharmacists can support members with certain health conditions on a tobacco cessation journey that includes health coaching, setting goals and sharing tools, tips and resources. Visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger or call toll-free (800) 821-2749 for more information on how to connect with a Blue Cross health coach or to sign up for programs and services. There is no cost to members to work with a Blue Cross health coach.
Louisianians also can use the following programs to help them quit:
• Quit with Us, Louisiana! is a free smoking cessation program that offers a wide range of resources, including a toll-free quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) and help with medication. www.quitwithusla.org
• Well-Ahead Louisiana is a Louisiana Department of Health program that promotes healthy workplaces and tobacco-free environments in Louisiana. The Well-Ahead website includes a wealth of information about smoking cessation.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel features short videos on how to quit smoking, including:
• Nicotine Awareness (00:53)
• Healthy Lungs (00:55)
Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA for regular updates. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.