News Release

December 16, 2011

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Carter Kimble - (405) 522-7510

SoonerQuit Helps Oklahoma Land In Top Five Most “Quit-Friendly” States For Tobacco

OKLAHOMA CITY – A new report conducted by the American Lung Association (ALA) places Oklahoma as the number four “quit-friendly” state for tobacco users.  The ALA report looked at federal and state level actions that make it easier for smokers to quit, including what tobacco cessation treatments are covered by a state’s Medicaid program. SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) provides all seven FDA approved medications to help smokers quit. Nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, inhaler, nasal spray, Chantix and Zyban are all covered.

The following five states had the highest scores for their overall efforts to help smokers quit: Maine, North Dakota, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Oklahoma was the only state in the region to make the top of the list. 

This is encouraging news for state initiatives that have been put into action to help Oklahomans who want to quit smoking.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) have been working together to educate and combat tobacco usage among SoonerCare members. OHCA will soon enter into an agreement with TSET to bring down federal matching dollars to help pay for SoonerCare members usage of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. (Interested parties can call 1-800 QUIT NOW to receive free information on quitting tobacco and one-on-one, telephone counseling with Quit Coaches.) 

“We know the devastating effects smoking tobacco has on the health of an individual and our communities,” said Mike Fogarty, CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. “As a purchaser of health care, it is our responsibility, and a wise investment, to make sure the appropriate resources are available to those who are looking for help quitting.”

The CDC estimates tobacco use rates for SoonerCare members are as high as 58 percent, much higher than the state’s average of 23.7 percent. OHCA has focused in on specific SoonerCare populations creating the following two programs for the SoonerQuit initiative:

  • SoonerQuit for Women: Encourages women of child-bearing age to talk to their doctor about quitting smoking. (This campaign is closely modeled after the successful MassHealth initiative that received accolades in the ALA report.)
  • SoonerQuit Prenatal: Educates SoonerCare obstetric providers on best practices for tobacco cessation for their patients. This is a systems level change that could potentially improve the birth outcomes in the state.

Oklahoman’s can also visit www.OKhelpline.com to register and receive services and support through the Web.

“We are proud of the recognition Oklahoma has received as a result of many years of strategic and collaborative effort on the part of organizations and individuals driven to improve the health status of our population,” said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). “The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has made the most effective tobacco treatments available to Oklahomans most in need.  This not only improves the health of Oklahomans in the

SoonerCare program, but it also reduces the cost to taxpayers of treating tobacco-related illnesses. For every person who quits smoking, the CDC estimates that $1,623 is saved every year in excess medical costs alone.”   

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