Governor tells insurers to cover vaping cessation treatments

Posted 12 December 2019 at 2:40 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced further action to address the growing threat of e-cigarette use, with measures to combat the increasing number of vaping-related illnesses. As part of these efforts, the Department of Financial Services today issued guidance advising New York insurers that they must cover the costs associated with most vaping cessation – without co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles – using the same treatments recommended for smoking cessation.

“E-cigarette use has exploded in recent years and many of the people who want to quit are now having trouble because vaping is more addicting than they previously thought,” Governor Cuomo said. “New Yorkers trying to stop vaping need access to treatment, and this action will require insurance companies to provide the same coverage they would for smoking cessation to anyone seeking to stop using e-cigarettes.”

As of Dec. 3, there were 2,291 cases of e-cigarette-associated lung injury reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 50 states, and 48 deaths have been confirmed in 25 states, including here in New York, where a second death due to a vaping-associated illness was reported on Nov. 20.

To combat this growing problem, Governor Cuomo has taken several actions, including banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York, warning New Yorkers against e-cigarette use, and directing the New York State Department of Health to investigate companies that produce vaping substances and require smoke and vape shops to post warnings advising New Yorkers of the health risks – all while the federal government stalls on banning e-cigarettes.

According to the circular letter issued today, because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and people who vape may become addicted to nicotine, insurers should provide coverage for vaping cessation treatment using methods recommended for smoking cessation, including screening, behavioral interventions and FDA-approved pharmacotherapy for adults and behavioral interventions for school-aged children and adolescents, as appropriate.

“Insurers must adapt to address emerging issues in public health and that includes vaping, which is growing in use including among teenagers causing illnesses and even deaths,” said Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell. “Insurers must cover vaping cessation in the same way they cover services for smoking cessation, and do so without cost-sharing.”

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