for the new smoking-According to the 2012 America’s Health Rankings Report from the United Health Foundation, Louisiana ranks 49th (tied with Mississippi) in overall health, with 25.7 percent of people smoking, compared to the national average of 21.2 percent.

In late 2011, a judgment in a 14-year-old class-action lawsuit entitled 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 to benefit all Louisiana residents who began smoking cigarettes before Sept. 1, 1988.

Applicants who register at http://www.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 participants will increase the success rate of attempts to stop smoking cigarettes, and may successfully quit — for good.

So, while smoking cigarettes is one of the hardest habits to break, the journey to a smoke-free life could be as 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