At eight of its drug stores in Louisville, Ky., Walgreen Co. has partnered with Passport Health Plan, a local Medicaid health plan, on a new smoking cessation program.

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Walgreens pilots smoking cessation program in Kentucky

February 21st, 2012

DEERFIELD, Ill. – At eight of its drug stores in Louisville, Ky., Walgreen Co. has partnered with Passport Health Plan, a local Medicaid health plan, on a new smoking cessation program.

Walgreens said Tuesday that the program, launched in early January, gives smokers the tools, resources and clinical pharmacist counseling to help them achieve their cessation goals in their effort to stop smoking — improving their health in the process.

Free to the drug chain's customers and Passport members, the program also provides further education on tobacco treatment. Walgreens added that the initiative aided in the development of its formal, 12-month process for helping people interested in tobacco cessation.

Walgreens pharmacists and technicians participating in the smoking cessation program have received specialized training from the Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

"The harmful effects of tobacco use are well-documented, and by working closely with our community pharmacists who people know and trust, we hope to encourage more smokers under Passport Health Plan to improve their health through this free program to help them quit," Greg Baker, Walgreens' pharmacy supervisor for Louisville, said in a statement.

"The cessation process can be very challenging," Baker noted. "We believe the ongoing dialogue with pharmacists, who are among the most accessible health care professionals in the community, can be an effective tool in working with and supporting people to overcome those challenges."

Passport members identified as tobacco users can enroll by visiting one of the eight Walgreens pharmacy locations. After they enroll, pharmacists will work with them through a multistep process that includes information and education on smoking cessation; options, tools, products and therapies for quitting smoking; and regularly scheduled patient follow-up for the next 12 months.

"Smoking and tobacco use are complex problems that require different approaches to adequately address," stated Stephen Houghland, chief medical officer for Passport Health Plan. "We believe that addressing this critical driver of negative health outcomes in as many areas where our members are, and with people they trust, is a great opportunity to truly make a difference in their health and quality of life."

Walgreens added that it will share program results with Passport on a monthly basis and measure the program's effectiveness for people enrolled over a six- and 12-month period.

"We applaud Walgreens for stepping up to help patients in two districts of Kentucky and Southern Indiana end tobacco use, in this pilot initiative," commented Celeste Worth, professional education and training manager at the Kentucky Cancer Program. "We are pleased to work with Walgreens pharmacies in their efforts to help customers get the medications and counseling they need to successfully overcome nicotine addiction."