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Paying for Smoking Cessation Programs Boosts Enrollment

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A new study finds that enrollment in smoking cessation programs jumped 10-fold during one year in the Netherlands when the government paid for them.

The study authors say their findings suggest that more people may sign up for smoking cessation programs if their governments or insurance companies pick up the tab, according to Reuters.

“We can only speculate about what this means for individual smokers. But I believe that many smokers really appreciate smoking cessation support being reimbursed,” lead author Marc Willemsen of Maastricht University told Reuters. He said smokers may not seek help if they see cost of treatment as a barrier.

The Dutch government began to reimburse citizens for smoking cessation treatments in January 2011. Smokers signed up by calling the national smokers’ quitline. The programs included telephone or in-person counseling. Therapy providers were encouraged to use medications such as nicotine replacement therapy or other smoking cessation medications. A large-scale media campaign alerting smokers to the offer reached 80 percent of them, the researchers said. The program ended after a year.

In 2010, before the program began, 848 smokers enrolled in the national hotline’s smoking cessation programs. During 2011, when the program was in effect, 9,091 smokers enrolled. From January to May 2012, after the program ended, 323 people had enrolled.

The study is published in the journal Addiction.

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