Assembly Majority Floor Leader Chris Holden Introduces Tobacco Cessation Legislation

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sacramento, CA – With renewed talks to reinvest in Medi-Cal, Assembly Majority Floor Leader Chris Holden reintroduced tobacco cessation legislation, AB 1696, to help California’s neediest residents quit smoking and avoid a lifetime of health problems. The bill requires tobacco cessation medications, counseling, and assessments to be covered for a Medi-Cal patient.

“Smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of the death in the United States” said Assembly Majority Floor Leader Chris Holden. “We have an opportunity to save lives and money with this bill.”

“The American Heart Association is proud to co-sponsor AB 1696 to ensure that California’s most vulnerable will be able to access tobacco cessation programs, which have been shown to greatly increase the success rate for those trying to quit using tobacco,” said Dr. Diane Sobkowicz, Board President for the Sacramento division of the American Heart Association and Director of the Women's Heart Program at Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute. “Our state spends $3.5 billion each year treating tobacco-related diseases through Medi-Cal. Studies have shown that every $1 spent on cessation program costs results in $3 in medical savings, a return on investment that would substantially reduce our state’s tobacco-related medical expenditures.”

California is traditionally viewed as a leader when it comes to regulating smoking and tobacco, but in 2015, the American Lung Association gave California an “F” score in the category of tobacco prevention control and spending, and a “D” in the category of access to cessation services. They specifically recommend expanding access to tobacco cessation treatments and services for Medi-Cal recipients.

“California used to be a leader in tobacco control with programming that supported a healthier lifestyle, but with tobacco companies outspending the California Tobacco Control Program 15 to 1, more work needs to be done,” said Holden.