SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - For many lighting up a cigarette is part of their daily routine. An estimated 36.5 million American adults smoked cigarettes as of 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year.
Family medicine physician Dr. Steve Springer founded the Smoking Treatment Center in 2016, a partnership between the Smoking Cessation Trust and Imperial Health.
"Almost 25 percent of our population here smokes and it's a monumental task to tackle, but we are passionate about it and we want to help as much as we can," Dr. Springer said.
After a class action lawsuit against the American tobacco company becoming final in 2011, it paved the way for around 200,000 people to quit smoking for free by ordering certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide 10-year smoking cessation program for Bayou State residents.
"So if you're a smoker and you smoked before 1988 and live in LA you can be treated for free," he said.
The Smoking Treatment Center has treated more than 1,000 residents in its first year and of those thousand residents, they've had an about a 13 percent success rate above the national average of six to 10 percent.
"When people try to quit on their own, unfortunately, it's about 97 percent fatal rate which is pretty bad odds," Dr. Springer said. "We know that we can help that tremendously when we add in the counseling and we add in individual core group counseling and especially when you take the price tag out of it."
The nurse practitioner at the Smoking Treatment Center, Darci Portie said going through the program and being a part of the counseling sessions and taking the medications provided can really make a difference.
"On medication, you have a 35 to 50 percent chance depending on what study you look at," said Portie. "Everybody knows that smoking is one of the hardest addictions to quit so if you have help with counseling and medications than it drastically increases your chances of quitting."
Again, in order to qualify for the free program, you must be a Louisiana state resident and smoked before 1988, even if it was just one cigarette.
However, if you do not meet those requirements for the free program, the Smoking Treatment Center will still work with you and your insurance company as well as your employer to find out if they offer a workplace wellness plan to make the treatment affordable.
For more information, give the center a call at (337) 312-8690 and click here to learn more about the Smoking Cessation Trust.