LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A class action lawsuit is paving the way for 200,000 people in Louisiana to stop smoking for free. KPLC's Britney Glaser reports it's also funding the first of its kind Smoking Treatment Center in Southwest Louisiana, which is recruiting those ready to stop smoking today.
Back in 2011, the judgment in a 14 year old class action lawsuit, "Scott v. American Tobacco Company," became final. Imperial Health family medicine physician, Dr. Steve Springer, explains it ordered certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide 10-year smoking cessation program for Louisiana residents who smoked a cigarette before September 1, 1988.
"You don't have to smoke a pack a day by 1988," said Dr. Springer. "If you take one puff off a cigarette in junior high, that qualifies."
As part of the Smoking Cessation Trust, Dr. Springer opened the Smoking Treatment Center inside the Imperial Health complex on Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive in Lake Charles.
"It's free individual counseling, free group therapy. You get a card in the mail in about two to three days once you get qualified for the trust. That card allows us to be able to fund completely your nicotine replacement, gum or patches, it completely pays for medications like Chantix or Wellbutrin," said Dr. Springer.
That full circle support is what leads to people successfully kicking the habit. Dr. Springer says without it, failure is almost inevitable.
"The abstinence rate for people that try to do it by themselves with no nicotine replacement and no therapy is literally two or three percent. The failure rate is about 97 percent."
While the Smoking Treatment Center is housed in Lake Charles, anyone in Southwest Louisiana can take advantage of its services.
"If someone lives out in Ragley or in Cameron, DeRidder, very far away from our center, we can still reach out virtually," said Dr. Springer. "We can do phone consults, we can do virtual groups, so we have the ability to even treat people if they can't make it physically to our location."
If you do not qualify for this specific grant, the Smoking Treatment Center can work with your insurance provider or workplace wellness plan to make the treatment affordable.