NEW ORLEANS -- The Department of Health Office of Public Health and the American Lung Association of Louisiana joined together to provide the free service, 1-800-LUNGUSA. Available throughout Louisiana, this toll-free hotline provides expert medical advice from trained experts. Smokers are also supported and encouraged as they deal with the myriad of emotional, physical and mental barriers they face while trying to quit.

“I smoked Marlboro Reds, the full strength,” said Ken Adolph, 63, of Metairie. “I smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes every day for 42 years. I thought I’d never quit.”

Adolph decided to quit in order to provide a better example for his grandchildren – and he started his journey to a smoke-free life by dialing 1-800-LUNGUSA.

“I did not want to die a smoker,” said Adolph, who has now been tobacco free for more than a year. “It’s a profound addiction, and the 1-800-LUNGUSA line is extremely helpful. They were able to connect with the emotional trip I was going through. I really feel that if it wasn’t for that 1-800 phone line, I’d still be smoking today.”

Adolph is not alone. Philip Laparouse of St. Martinville also used 1-800-LUNGUSA to help end his addiction to tobacco. A smoker for more than 50 years, Laparouse knew he needed to quit when he experienced a chronic cough that would not go away. Unfortunately, Laparouse’s story should serve as a warning to all Louisiana tobacco users: After four months of being smoke free, the 69-year-old retiree was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“When you quit smoking, you feel like you’re all alone,” Laparouse said. “So I would tell all smokers to call, because it’s really hard to quit smoking and you need all the help you can get.”

Through 1-800-LUNGUSA, Laparouse also received help and support dealing with his cancer diagnosis. The trained medical experts at the American Lung Association were able to explain Laparouse’s illness and treatment options. Today, Laparouse is responding well to radiation treatments. Although the tumor discovered on his lung has not disappeared, its growth has been stunted.

“These are just two examples of how our partnership with the American Lung Association of Louisiana is benefiting all Louisiana residents,” said Dr. Frederick P. Cerise, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. “By helping people end their addiction to tobacco, we are saving lives and will ultimately save on health care costs.”

In Louisiana, $1.15 billion is spent annually on health care costs associated with tobacco-related diseases. Of that figure, $518 million is covered through the Louisiana state Medicaid program. Reducing tobacco-related health care costs will help reduce the $518 in tax money each Louisiana household must pay each year to cover state tobacco-related health care expenditures.

“We are proud to help DHH’s Office of Public Health Tobacco Control Program to help reduce the needless loss of life, loss of health and loss of taxpayer dollars caused by tobacco addiction in Louisiana,” said Tommy Lotz, executive director of the American Lung Association of Louisiana. “Together we are helping to make Louisiana a better place to live for everyone.”

For more information about 1-800-LUNGUSA, visit the Office of Public Health’s Web site, or call 1-800-LUNGUSA.

About Louisiana Tobacco Control Program
The Louisiana Office of Public Health Tobacco Control Program began in 1993. The program is focused on environmental and policy change providing community and statewide partnership to communities to coordinate community planning and capacity-building activities regarding tobacco prevention and control.