LOS ANGELES - County health officials this week launched a stop-smoking campaign that will involve the largest free distribution of nicotine patches and nicotine gum ever in California.The 30,000 two-week starter kits, funded from the County's allotment from a settlement of a lawsuit against the tobacco industry and contributions from the L.A. Care Health Plan, will be distributed at 47 participating Ralphs grocery store pharmacies while supplies last. Smoking is the leading case of preventable deaths in the United States and costs the nation about $4.3 billion due to related diseases and death each year, officials said. "The prevalence of this particular problem is highest in the African-American and Asian/Pacific Islanders," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who joined Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county's health officer, at a Ralph's store near Staples Center to launch the campaign. Ridley-Thomas said "remarkable strides" have been made in reducing smoking in the County through the efforts of public cessation programs "but we also know that there is still a whole lot more work to be done that will require more innovation." County residents 18 years of age and older are eligible to receive the anti-smoking kits. Participants will be screened for eligibility to ensure that the nicotine replacement therapy will not conflict with any pre-existing conditions. They will also be required to participate in a follow-up survey.
********** Published: June 26, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 10