According to the recently released 2014 America’s Health Rankings Report from the United Health Foundation, Louisiana presently ranks 44 (up from 46 in 2013) out of 50 states for tobacco use. Currently, 23.5 percent of the state’s adult population lights up, well above the national average of 19 percent. While Louisianans are making steady improvements, there is no better time than the start of a new year to consider a plan to quit smoking.

While we encourage all smokers to quit, Louisiana residents who began smoking cigarettes before Sept. 1, 1988, are of particular interest to us at the Smoking Cessation Trust. In late 2011, a judgment in a 14-year-old class-action lawsuit titled Scott v. American Tobacco Company 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.

Louisiana residents who register at www.smokefreela.org for the smoking cessation program and are approved as qualified recipients are eligible to receive any of the following cessation services completely free: cessation medications, individual/group cessation counseling, telephone quit-line support, and/or intensive cessation support services. By using these services, evidence suggests that cigarette smokers will increase their chances of successfully quitting — for good.

While we approach 2015, the Smoking Cessation Trust wants to encourage Louisiana residents who qualify to apply for trust benefits and begin the journey to a smoke-free life. It will be free and as easy as making and keeping your new year’s resolution.

Mike Rogers

chief executive officer, Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services

New Orleans