More than 43,000 Louisiana residents are now calling it quits.

Yes, tobacco companies spend billions on promoting their products and their marketing efforts are relentless. It’s too bad the report that Marsha Shuler addressed in her Dec. 9 article in The Advocate (Report: Louisiana spends fraction of suggested amount on anti-smoking initiatives; overall efforts rated poor) did not mention the 43,000-plus Louisianians who have applied for membership in the Smoking Cessation Trust. The Smoking Cessation Trust provides free medications, nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patches, inhalers, etc.), group and individual counseling, and quit-line coaching to help Louisiana residents who qualify to go smoke-free.

The Smoking Cessation Trust is the result of a court judgment in a 14-year-old class-action lawsuit entitled Scott v. American Tobacco Co. The judgment became final in 2011 and ordered certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide, 10-year smoking-cessation program to benefit more than 210,000 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 to benefit all Louisiana residents who began smoking cigarettes before Sept. 1, 1988.

The Smoking Cessation Trust is not allowed to spend one penny on paid advertising. Thanks to referrals from providers, health plans, employers, friends, family, members and other influencers throughout Louisiana, 43,462 cigarette smokers throughout the state have applied for membership in the free program. In fact, since Jan. 1, 2014, the trust has been enrolling more than 1,500 new members per month. The Smoking Cessation Trust began enrolling members in 2012 and hopes to achieve its goal of helping 210,000 Louisianans become smoke-free by 2022.

The Smoking Cessation Trust works in partnership with growing list of health care delivery systems to help meet the needs of their patients and their communities, including Ochsner Health System, Cardiovascular Institute of the South, West Jefferson Medical Center, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and the Rapides Foundation, to name a few. The trust is also working with the largest managed care plans in Louisiana to help introduce the free program to providers and health plan members who might benefit.

Feel free to follow the Smoking Cessation Trust on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. For additional information about the Smoking Cessation Trust or to register online, visit www.SmokeFreeLA.org or call (504) 529-5665 or toll-free at (855) 259-6346.

Jim Pittman

Influence networking adviser

Metairie