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Indiana drops prescriptions for quit-smoking medicines

A cigarette. (WISH Photo, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box signed an order Monday to let people buy restricted quit-smoking products from a pharmacy without a prescription.

The state’s top health leaders said they believe the change starting Aug. 1 will make it easier for Hoosiers to get Chantix and other smoking-cessation medications now only available by prescription.

A news release from the state’s health officials said Indiana will become the 12th state with a policy or standing order allowing pharmacists to prescribe tobacco-cessation products. The change eliminates financial and time barriers for people who want to quit smoking.

State data shows more than 13% of Hoosier women who are pregnant smoke. That statistics was one of the reasons state health officials wanted to make it easier to help people kick the habit.

“We know smoking contributes to poor outcomes for both mom and baby. Preterm birth is the No. 1 cause of most of our infant mortality. We know that preterm birth is two times higher when individuals smoke in pregnancy,” Box said. “We have removed a major barrier to you walking in, being able to get the counseling, get the screening and get the health assessment to determine whether those tobacco cessation products are for you.”

Some quit-smoking products including patches, gum and lozenges are already available over the counter in Indiana.

Box’s order also means women on Medicaid won’t have a copay for quit-smoking products while pregnant or up to a year after birth.

“This is a great gesture of investment in the health of Hoosiers,” said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, the secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

Almost 22% of adult Hoosiers smoke. Walthall said the order from Box will save lives.”It absolutely will. Not only moms’ lives, in enhanced years, but also infants, unborn children.”