Health and Human Services: Resolution HHS-11-14


WHEREAS, the hallmark of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ (NBCSL’s) Health and Human Services policy has been the promotion of healthy lifestyles as a means to prevent addiction and other health problems;

WHEREAS, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that cigarette smoking accounts for nearly one in every five deaths each year, more than all deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined;

WHEREAS, there are an estimated 45 million smokers in the United States, and each year 443,000 people die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses, including 50,000 from secondhand smoke exposure, virtually all of which are preventable;

WHEREAS, cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, shortening American life spans by an average of thirteen years, and is the leading cause of lung, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, mouth, and bladder cancers, and dramatically increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease;

WHEREAS, there are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes and when burned, over 4,000 chemicals with at least fifty carcinogens among them, including arsenic, butane, tar, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, lead, and a host of other toxins, insecticides, and pesticides;

WHEREAS, although the annual prevalence of smoking has declined by half between 1965 and 2008 and there are an estimated 51 million former smokers, still seventy percent (70%) of tobacco users desire to quit and only four to seven percent (4-7%) of smokers are successful each year in quitting due to their addiction to nicotine, a highly addictive drug found in tobacco products;

WHEREAS, often tobacco dependence is, for many smokers, a recurring chronic condition that requires treatment and support to stop;

WHEREAS, research shows that medicine along with support can be a more effective way to quit smoking compared to quitting on one’s own without medicine or support;

WHEREAS, the CDC recommends a comprehensive smoking cessation insurance benefit that covers four (4) counseling sessions at thirty (30) minutes each as well as all nicotine replacement therapies and tobacco cessation medications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration;

WHEREAS, the CDC recommends a comprehensive smoking cessation insurance benefit that includes counseling and medication coverage for at least two (2) smoking cessation attempts per year and eliminates co-pays or deductibles for counseling and medications;

WHEREAS, more than forty (40) states cover smoking cessation treatment in their Medicaid programs;

WHEREAS, states may face financial barriers in implementing new or expanded smoking cessation programs because of the upfront costs; however, research shows that states save an average of $1.26 for every dollar spent on providing cessation treatments;

WHEREAS, a Massachusetts State-led tobacco cessation initiative buttressed by state-sponsored healthcare benefits led to a twenty-six percent (26%) decline in smoking rates over the first two and a half years of the program, resulting in thirty-eight percent (38%) fewer cessation benefit users being hospitalized for heart attacks in the first year, eighteen percent (18%) fewer cessation benefit users visiting the emergency room due to asthma symptoms in the first year, and twelve percent (12%) fewer maternal birth complications since the program’s inception; and

WHEREAS, according to Penn State University researchers, the national average price for a pack of cigarettes in 2009 was $5.51, but the real cost to society of that pack of cigarettes was $18.05 -- more than three times the retail price -- when factoring in the costs of productivity loss, absenteeism, and smoking-related illness and death, which can lead to more than $300 billion dollars annually of lost revenue, including:

  • Workplace productivity losses, $67.5 billion;
  • Costs of premature death, $117 billion; and
  • Direct healthcare expenditures for smoking-related illnesses, $116 billion.


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) promotes programs aimed at preventing young people from smoking;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NBCSL supports smoking cessation programs that include treatment and support for smokers trying to quit;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NBCSL supports programs which will decrease the number of premature adult deaths associated with smoking through prevention and cessation initiatives;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NBCSL supports major smoking prevention and cessation benefits inclusion in healthcare legislation; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NBCSL encourages all health plans, public and private, to follow tobacco prevention first and foremost as well as the CDC’s cessation recommendations.

SPONSOR(S): Senator Usie Richards (USVI)
Committee of Jurisdiction: Health and Human Services Policy Committee
Certified by Committee Chair: Representative Joe Armstrong (TN)
Ratified in Plenary Session: Ratification Date is December 3, 2010
Ratification is certified by: Representative Calvin Smyre (GA), President

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