Smokers on Medicaid to Get State Help in Quitting

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The state announced on Nov. 14, 2006, a pilot program to provide free nicotine patches and other stop-smoking aids to people who rely on the government health plan.

The $2 million program will also provide nicotine gum or lozenges to people who enter a telephone-counseling program, beginning Dec. 15, 2006.

State Health and Family Services Secretary Mark Birdwhistell said Medicaid spends about $140 million a year on smoking-related illnesses, which cost the state overall about $1.2 billion.

The smoking rate in Kentucky is about 29 percent, but the American Heart Association said for Medicaid recipients, the rate is 40 percent.