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Excellus BCBS Ramps Up Efforts to Curb E-Cigarette Use and Boost Education
For Immediate Release: 2019-09-11
Rochester, NY –
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s chief executive officer today ordered clarifications to its own workforce policies to ensure the current ban on smoking in the workplace of tobacco products also applies to non-tobacco products as safety concerns are mounting regarding e-cigarettes and vaping.
“Most laws and workplace policies are historically oriented to tobacco-based products, so we thought it was worth the effort to draw attention to the safety concerns of e-cigarettes while also strengthening those policies we can control,” said Chris Booth, the health plan’s CEO.
The health plan provides its employees and its commercially insured members with a free program that offers nicotine replacement products (patches, lozenges and gum), counseling, medication recommendations and help guides.
Booth further directed the plan to broaden community education initiatives regarding the dangers of vaping, particularly among young people. “There’s nothing hazy about the resolve of the state Legislature and governor on the issue of vaping among young people,” Booth said, citing a law that goes into effect in November that bans the sale of such products to anyone under the age of 21.
Excellus BCBS just issued a new educational poster, “E-Cigarettes: What You Need to Know About Vaping.” The poster highlights findings from various surveys and experts who report that one in four New York high school students vaped in 2018, a rate that is 160 percent higher than what was reported in 2014.
“While scientists are still studying the long-term side effects of e-cigarettes, their use among young people can lead to chronic coughing, bronchitis and wheezing,” said Stephen Cohen, M.D., senior vice president and corporate medical director. “This is a product that is way too easy to get and to get hooked on because of the addictive nature of nicotine.”
The educational poster has been shared with the New York State Center for School Health and is now being distributed to school nurses throughout upstate New York. More than 100 posters have already been distributed to Onondaga County school nurses, for example.
The health plan’s provider relations representatives are also in the process of delivering the educational posters to pediatrician offices throughout upstate New York as a method of reaching both parents and children.
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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.