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Retailers offer enhanced services to help quit

Walmart's smoking-cessation endcap

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Even though section 1201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the section that enables health payers to charge a 50% premium on smokers — won't go into effect until 2015, smoking cessation will be a growing category in 2014.

This year and next, the retail market is already primed to offer enhanced smoking cessation services to customers. As they'll be looking to recoup the return on investment in those programs, there'll be more messaging on quit attempts more often.

And that will spur more quit attempts. "We have 11 million smokers in our market," noted former Safeway chief executive Steven Burd regarding the introduction of the chain's stop-smoking program in conjunction with the University of California, San Francisco. "Eight million of them would like to quit," he said. "It's not easy, and we think that working with UCSF and doing a combination of the right smoking-cessation product with some behavioral modification is really the key."

For retail clinics, smoking cessation is one of the chronic care programs that can help increase traffic. "[We're] piloting enhanced smoking cessation and weight-management programs, and the strong growth we've experienced in MinuteClinic's non-acute services is helping us to reduce the seasonality of the business," Larry Merlo, CEO and president of CVS Caremark, told analysts earlier this year.

To help pharmacies and clinics augment their smoking-cessation solutions, the Foundation for Health Smart Consumers launched a major expansion of its smoking-cessation initiative through the Inspire Program at the annual Retail Clinician Education Congress held in May. A core component of that program is a patient counseling toolkit available to clinicians online to increase the quantity and frequency of smoking-cessation interventions in the convenient care setting.

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