Smoking

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California Considers Raising Smoking Age to 21

Ninety percent of current smokers tried their first cigarette before turning 18. (Dave Whelan/Flickr)

Ninety percent of current smokers tried their first cigarette before turning 18. (Dave Whelan/Flickr)

State lawmakers want to raise the legal smoking age in California from 18 to 21, arguing the change would reduce smoking rates overall and lower health care costs associated with tobacco use.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) introduced Senate Bill 151 on Thursday, saying the new legislation would increase protection for kids under 18 as well.

“It is much easier for someone who is 17 to get cigarettes from a friend who is 18,” he said. “Someone who is 21 is more likely to be in the workforce or in college, and unlikely to have a younger set of friends.”

Studies show that 90 percent of current smokers tried their first cigarette before turning 18. About 95 percent tried smoking before age 21. Continue reading

Using Both Phone Support and Websites Help Smokers Kick the Habit

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Nancy Shute, NPR

If you’re resolved to quit smoking this year, it’s arguably the one best thing you could do for your health. But it’s not easy, so every bit of help is a good thing.

People who used both state-sponsored telephone quit lines and newer Web-based services to quit smoking were more successful, compared with people who just used one service, a study finds.

That might be because using the two different kinds of help makes it easier to quit, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published Wednesday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Or it could mean that they’re more motivated, the researchers say — motivated enough to track down and try the different tools. Continue reading

Penalty on Smokers Can Spell Higher Premiums under Health Overhaul

Legislator planning law to limit penalty in California

A little-known provision in the Affordable Care Act permits insurers to charge higher premiums to smokers. (Dave Whelan: Flickr)

A little-known provision in the Affordable Care Act permits insurers to charge higher premiums to smokers. (Dave Whelan: Flickr)

WASHINGTON (AP) Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to experts who are just now teasing out the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.

The Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.

For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year.
Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration. But older smokers could face a heavy hit on their household budgets at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge.

Workers covered on the job would be able to avoid tobacco penalties by joining smoking cessation programs, because employer plans operate under different rules. But experts say that option is not guaranteed to smokers trying to purchase coverage individually. Continue reading