According to the 2015 America’s Health Rankings Report from the United Health Foundation, Louisiana currently ranks 46 (44 in 2014) out of 50 states for tobacco use. Presently, 24 percent (23.5 percent in 2014) of the state’s adult population lights up, well above the national average of 18.1 percent (19 percent in 2014). While smoking nationally continues to decrease, smoking in Louisiana, unfortunately, increased slightly this year.

These latest numbers for Louisiana only strengthens our resolve to help people kick this addiction.

In late 2011, a judgment in a 14-year-old class action lawsuit, Scott v. American Tobacco Co., became final. That judgment ordered certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide, 10-year smoking-cessation program to benefit Louisiana smokers who are members of the plaintiff class (the “Scott class”).

The recipient of the award was a court-established and court-supervised smoking cessation program — The Smoking Cessation Trust — to benefit all Louisiana residents who smoked a cigarette before Sept. 1, 1988.

Now, entering the fourth year of the program, the trust has registered more than 44,000 Louisianans, who have made the commitment to do one of the hardest things they will ever do in their lives — quit smoking.

Louisiana residents who register at www.smokefreela.org for the new smoking-cessation program and are approved as qualified recipients are eligible to receive any of the following services completely free: cessation medications (such as Zyban and Chantix ), nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patch, lozenge, inhaler, nasal spray), individual/ group cessation counseling, telephone quit-line support and/or intensive cessation support services.

By using these services, evidence suggests that participants will increase the success rate of quitting smoking (on average, it takes 9 to 11 attempts), and may successfully quit — for good.

So, while smoking cigarettes is hard and often lonely work, for approved Louisiana residents the journey to a smoke-free life could be free and as easy as making and keeping a New Year’s resolution.

Mike Rogers

CEO, Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services Inc.

New Orleans