Holden’s Bill (AB 1162) To Require Smoking Cessation Programs For Medi-Cal Patients Passes Assembly

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sacramento – Amid proposals to increase the smoking age, raise sales taxes on cigarettes and other efforts to decrease the prevalence of smokers, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) is leading the effort to help current smokers kick the habit.

AB 1162, approved in the Assembly, clarifies which tobacco cessation treatments are covered under Medi-Cal and ensures comprehensive coverage for all patients. AB 1162 is designed to spur smokers to quit by expanding the kinds of FDA approved   medications available and providing stop-smoking counseling sessions.  

“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 Assemblymember Holden. “The American Lung Association graded all 50 states on tobacco control efforts and gave California a D for its poor coverage of smoking cessation and treatment services. I want to improve our grades by making smoking cessation services easier to access which will help save money in the process.”

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The national smoking rate is 18 percent however smoking within the Medicaid population is 30 percent. A recent study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid points to significant cost savings – indicating that for every dollar spent on smoking cessation programs, $2- $3 is saved in healthcare costs.

The bill is supported by the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and doctors.