More than 162,000 Kentuckians on Medicaid use tobacco, but less than 1 in 5 use smoking-cessation benefits to try to quit

No Smoking SignTen percent of Kentuckians on Medicaid are dependent on tobacco, but fewer than 2 percent are using Medicaid to quit, according to a report from Kentucky Health News.

In 2015, only 17.2 percent of Medicaid recipients used smoking-cessation medications, even though such meds are available to them at little to no cost. Only 1.4 percent of received smoking-cessation counseling, according to data from the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Almost $600 million of Kentucky’s annual Medicaid expenses are for smoking-related illnesses, Ashli Watts of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said on Kentucky Educational Television in October.

The chamber wants the General Assembly to pass a statewide ban on smoking in workplaces as a way to save money for taxpayers and employers. “We can simply no longer afford to ignore this issue,” Watts said. “Smoking is not only killing us, it is bankrupting us.”

Passport Health Plan members seeking information about how to quit smoking can call Passport at 1-800-578-0603 or the Kentucky Quit Now Support Line at 1-800-784-8669.