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New York tells health insurers to cover cost of vaping cessation products

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said New Yorkers trying

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said New Yorkers trying to stop vaping need access to treatment. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY — The state on Thursday told health insurance companies to cover the cost of products to help people quit vaping without requiring patients to pay co-payments or deductibles.

The move represents the latest state action to address the rise in the use of electronic cigarettes that often contain addictive nicotine and can lead to cancer and other ailments.

The state guidance interpreting existing law is intended to provide immediate help to people who want to quit vaping. The action mirrors guidance for insurance coverage of cessation products such as patches that are sold to stop use of traditional tobacco products.

Nationwide, 48 deaths have been attributed to vaping, including two in New York State. There were more than 2,200 cases of lung injuries nationwide associated with e-cigarettes as of this month, according to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“There is no question that e-cigarette usage is bad for your health, and in some cases can even be deadly,” said state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

The state will monitor compliance with its guidance and may take action insurers that don't comply, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

“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,” 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,” he said.

The New York Health Plan Association said its member insurers will or already are covering vaping cessation in the same way they cover smoking cessation, said Leslie Moran of the association.

Vaping manufacturers have promoted the use of e-cigarettes as a method to help people reduce or stop smoking traditional cigarettes.

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