Letter to the editor: Help, don’t penalize, smokers
Regarding “Pittsburgh suspends employee ‘tobacco surcharge’ until 2020” (Nov. 14, TribLIVE): The American Lung Association applauds the City of Pittsburgh’s effort to help employees’ health, but we disagree with punitive measures, like tobacco surcharges, that have not been proven effective in reducing tobacco use.
Tobacco surcharges may reduce enrollment in health care plans and may decrease smoking cessation rates. The American Lung Association recommends adopting legislation to prohibit tobacco surcharges across health insurance plans in the commonwealth.
Additionally, we want all Pittsburgh city employees to know that proven-effective programs to quit smoking are available through the PA Free QuitLine, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) and Tobacco Free Allegheny, which provide free, in-person cessation with no-cost nicotine replacement therapy, like the patch and gum, to Pittsburgh/Allegheny County residents.
Instead of penalizing employees for the addiction, we encourage the city to promote in-person, by phone and online quit programs that provide free medication to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County residents to help them quit and stay quit.
Learn more about how the American Lung Association can help tobacco users quit at www.Lung.org .
The writer is director of advocacy, Pennsylvania, for the American Lung Association.