Dr. Steve Springer, family medicine physician and founder of the Smoking Treatment Center at Imperial Health, is reminding the public that the enrollment period for free smoking cessation treatment funded by the state’s Smoking Cessation Trust ends July 11 of this year. The 10-year program has partnered with the Smoking Treatment Center for the past six years to provide free smoking cessation products and services to those who want help with breaking the smoking habit in Southwest Louisiana. The Trust was recently awarded a five-year extension for treatment services.  Patients enrolled as of July 11, 2022, will be able to continue to have treatment for the next five years but only those enrolled before that date. No new patients can be enrolled after that date.

Dr. Springer says his Center has enrolled 2,246 people in the Trust program. “Our partnership with the Trust has enabled us to successfully help a wider group of smokers across Southwest Louisiana than we would have been able to without this program, and we hope to enroll even more who can benefit. That’s why we want to make sure people understand the deadline is approaching.”

The Smoking Treatment Center utilizes an evidence-based, patient-centered approach tailored to each individual’s specific needs, with the ultimate goal to free smokers from the nicotine dependence cycle and improve their overall health. “Our services combine the knowledge of experienced, trained staff with the newest interventions and medications available,” says Dr. Springer. “We assess each person’s personal goals, work schedule, medical history, and many other factors, and then customize their treatment to meet their needs.”

The Smoking Cessation Trust, which began in 2012, is the result of a court judgment in a 14-year-old class action lawsuit. The judgment became final in 2011 and ordered certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide, 10-year smoking cessation program to benefit all Louisiana residents – more than 200,000 – who smoked a cigarette before September 1, 1988.

Dr. Springer says applicants who register for the smoking cessation program and are approved (usually in one day) as qualified recipients are then eligible to receive a wide range of smoking cessation services at no charge, including cessation medications (such as Zyban® and Chantix®), nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patch, lozenge, inhaler, nasal spray), individual/ group cessation counseling, telephone quit-line support, and/or intensive cessation support services. By using these services, evidence suggests that participants will increase the success rate of attempts to stop smoking.

Louisiana presently ranks 46 out of 50 states for tobacco use, according to the 2015 America’s Health Rankings® Report from the United Health Foundation with nearly a quarter of the state’s residents smoking.

Dr. Springer says these numbers hold true in Calcasieu Parish, with approximately 25% of the adult population smoking, and even higher rates in surrounding parishes.

In addition to those who qualify for services through the Trust, Dr. Springer says the Smoking Treatment Center also accepts private pay, insurance and workplace wellness coverage. “We want to help as many people as we possibly can. Our treatment approach is proven and we are very excited to help more people begin the journey to a lifestyle free from tobacco.”

Anyone interested should call (337) 312-8690 for additional information or visit www.smokingtreatmentcenter.com. Additional information about the Smoking Cessation Trust is available at www.smokingcessationtrust.org.