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Smoking Cessation Legislation

Smoking Cessation Legislation

The American Cancer Society is one of a number of groups supporting a new bill that would authorize Medicare to pay for smoking cessation counseling and Medicaid to pay for both prescription and nonprescription smoking cessation drugs. The bill is called the Medicare, Medicaid, and MCH Smoking Cessation Services Act. (MCH stands for Maternal and Child Health, a program through which the federal government gives funds to community health clinics.)

The introduction of the Senate and House versions of the bill (S. 622/H.R. 1229) paralleled the publication of a report on women and smoking by US Surgeon General David Satcher, MD.

The consensus in the report was that each year women account for 39% of all smoking-related deaths in the United States—a proportion that has more than doubled since 1965. Barbara Phillips, MD, a member of the American Lung Association’s national board of directors, said that the increase can be explained by the tobacco industry’s "shameful history of targeting girls and women." She alludes to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission, which found that tobacco industry advertising and promotional expenditures increased from $6.73 billion in 1998 to $8.24 billion in 1999—a 22.3% increase.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), sponsor of S. 622, said, "Sadly, the famous slogan was right. We’ve come a long way—but a long way in the wrong direction." The House and Senate bills have substantial bipartisan support, enhancing their chance of passage.

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