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Health Consortium Focuses On Cigarettes

The Columbia County Community Healthcare Consortium recently released its report for improving preventative and primary care in Greene and Columbia counties.

The New York State Department of Health assisted the consortium’s task force study by awarding it a 2-year grant. Among the recommendations was an in-depth study of buy cigarettes use and financial effects.

The consortium recommended maintaining the cigarettes online tax as a way to discourage the costly habit of smoking cigarettes. According to the study, the state tax is currently $4.35 per pack, with an additional federal tax of $1.01 which makes the total cost per pack at $5.36 using 2010 figures. The American Cancer Society estimated that 85,000 adults would stop smoking cigarettes due to the cost of cigarettes. Coupled with ongoing economic strains, its possible to estimate an even higher projected number. Despite the task force study advocating the high tax, the report stated it does not support an increase at this time, citing large increases in recent years.

Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended $250 million dollars to be expended in New York State for cheap cigarettes cessation and prevention, but details of how to meet this goal were not provided at this time. The state currently expends $41 million a year on anti-cigarettes actions.

The report stated that physicians are the most effective resource for helping people quit smoking cigarettes. Rising health care costs can reduce an individual’s access to physicians, but the report advocates reimbursements to pay doctors to work with patients on cessation. In 2008, Medicare adopted specific codes for reimbursement after studies revealed 10 percent of recipients, or 4 million people nationwide were smokers.

“Despite the benefit of providing reimbursement incentives to physicians to spend time working with patients on one of society’s deadliest lifestyle programs, Medicare and Medicaid are two of the few payers to recognize the codes,” said the report.

If all insurers and self-employed plans adopted the codes, the task force estimates the cost to Greene and Columbia counties would range from $300,000-$350,000, assuming 10 percent of the 21,000 participating smokers used all eight cessation sessions.

The report said, “At the local level, action should be taken to convince local employers and insurance plans to use the reimbursement codes.”

In response to the Environmental Protection Agency classifying secondhand smoke cigarettes a Group A carcinogen, the task force urged local municipalities to ban smoking cigarettes in parks and playgrounds.

Earlier this month, The Village Board of Athens unanimously approved a resolution banning smoking cigarettes in some local parks, particularly in areas where children play. New York City has banned smoking cigarettes in all parks and beaches.

The report undeniably highlights the growing need to further address financial challenges cigarettes use poses for the state and counties. The recommendations have provided data to be used as a guideline tool as officials continue to debate buy cigarette online related health issues.