HEALTH

Study: Smoking cessation can provide health, economic benefits to Calif., nation

BY Michael Johnsen

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A new study released Wednesday by the American Lung Association, and conducted by researchers at Penn State University, found that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits to California and the nation.

“Smoking Cessation: The Economic Benefits” provides a nationwide cost-benefit analysis that compares the societal costs of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation coverage.

There are an estimated 3.8 million people who smoke in California, and the study found that smoking results in costs to the California economy of more than $26 billion. This includes workplace productivity losses of nearly $6 billion, costs of premature death at more than $9 billion and direct medical expenditures of $11 billion.

The Penn State study also calculated the combined medical and premature death costs and workplace productivity losses per pack of cigarettes. The study showed that while the statewide average retail pack of cigarettes in California is $5.17, the true cost of a pack of cigarettes when considering healthcare impacts and workplace productivity losses is $27.07 per pack, a third higher than the $18.05 national average.

The American Lung Association study found that smoking cessation provided a tremendous return on investment for states. For every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, states will see, on average, a return of $1.26. However, the return on investment for California is among the highest in the country at $1.40. Comparative data for all states can be found at LungUSA.org/stop-smoking/tobacco-control-advocacy/reports-resources/cessation-economic-benefits/ .

The study came at an important time, as smoking-cessation provisions are being implemented at the federal level and in California as Senate Bill 220 is awaiting action by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sponsored by the American Lung Association in California, the Cancer Society and the Heart Association, SB 220 would require all health plans and insurers to provide coverage of treatments to help people who smoke to quit smoking. If signed into law, SB 220 would represent the most comprehensive smoking-cessation benefits policy in the nation.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger has the opportunity to make a long-lasting difference in the health and lives of future generations of Californians, and we urge him to do so by signing SB 220 into law,” stated Jane Warner, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in California.

Some of the highest rates of smoking are found among people enrolled in Medicaid, the American Lung Association added. The American Lung Association urged California and every state in the nation to provide all Medicaid recipients and state employees with comprehensive, easily accessible tobacco-cessation benefits. A comprehensive cessation benefit includes all seven medications and three types of counseling recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service for tobacco cessation. Only six states now provide comprehensive coverage for Medicaid recipients: Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

 

The American Lung Association also recommends that private insurance plans and employers offer comprehensive cessation coverage, and encourages states to require them to cover these treatments. Only seven states have such requirements now: Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Rhode Island.

 

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Vicks Starry Night humidifier hits retail shelves

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Kaz on Tuesday announced the launch of its Vicks Starry Night humidifier, a product that releases cool moisture into the air for temporary relief of congestion and coughs, and features a built-in, independently controlled projector so that parents have the option to turn off the lights once their child has fallen asleep without turning off the humidifier altogether.

 

With the Vicks Starry Night humidifier, parents will be able to create a virtual galaxy on their child’s bedroom ceiling.

 

 

Arecently released scientific white paper suggested humidifiers may play an important role in reducing the survival of the flu virus on both surfaces and in the air. The research suggested that homes kept between 40% and 60% relative humidity are likely to have fewer flu viruses lingering in the air and on such commonly touched surfaces as sink faucets, door handles and countertops.

 

 

Best used in medium-sized rooms, the Vicks Starry Night humidifier operates between 18 hours and 24 hours on a 1-gallon tank. The product’s built-in scent pad heater works with Vicks Soothing Vapors VapoPads.

 

 

The Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture humidifier (V3700) has a suggested retail price of $54.99, and currently is available through Toys"R"Us, Kmart, Walgreens and on Amazon.com.

 

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Rexam’s Pill Timer seeks to improve medication adherence

BY Alaric DeArment

PERRYSBURG, Ohio Rexam is marketing a programmable pill timer that fits on its prescription vials that was developed under a partnership with Med Time Technology.

 

The two companies announced Tuesday the introduction of the Pill Timer, which uses software that can be programmed with audio and visual alerts to help people properly take their prescription medications. The Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System is one of the first healthcare organizations to adopt the product.

 

 

“The use of the Pill Timer will enable Henry Ford to help chronically ill patients manage their medication more effectively,” Henry Ford director of pharmacy Steve Duda said. “It’s an important breakthrough for our patients.”

 

 

Every year, poor medication management is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $300 billion and claim 300,000 lives, Rexam said.

 

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