Obama Administration Pulls Back Provision Targeting Smokers

Smokers celebrate, as Obama Administration turns down draconian proposal targeting smokers.

Obama Administration turns down proposal targeting smokers

The Administration of President Obama this week successfully turned down one of the provisions of the federal public health legislation, which would have permitted insurance providers within the small group segment of the market to oblige smokers pay about a half more than those who do not smoke for insurance.

In accordance with the introduced bill, workers who consume tobacco in any form, may escape from paying these larger premiums in case they agree to take part in a smoking cessation programs.

The measure as well permits states to remove higher insurance rates for tobacco users altogether.

“That was how the authorities can make lemonade out of lemons with the legislation,” declared Erika Sward, American Lung Association assistant vice president. The Association stated that forcing smokers pay higher premiums could reduce smoking, by making people decide whether to go smoke-free and pay less, or keep puffing and pay more for insurance.

“We believe carrots are much more effective than sticks in encouraging people stop smoking,” Sward added.
Erin Reidy, associate policy director at the Cancer Action Network, an agency of the American Cancer Society, also supported the regulation, claiming they still hope the administration would approve it for people who pay for insurance on their own.

“The rule helps smokers resort to assistance of proven services in order to quit smoking by making sure that smokers who get enrolled in the smoking cessation programs are charged the same money as those who don’t smoke,” she noted.

However Lewis Maltby, director of the National Institute of Workrights, an advocacy and research group, which specializes on employment matters, criticized the regulation, naming it “a dumb idea” which was likely to become a headache for insurance companies and employers.

“The fee is kind of a silly joke in case all a smoker has to do to pay less for insurance is to enroll in a quit program and then simply get back to smoking,” he stated.

In addition, even organizations advocating for smokers’ rights gave the rule mixed reviews.

“It was great to know there has been a pullback of the rule to charge smokers more for insurance,” admitted Audrey Silk, president of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. Yet, she added cigarettes smokers could be against having to enroll in quit programs. “This looks like involuntary change in behavior. It’s a kind of blackmailing.”

In 2009 President Obama signed historic anti-smoking law, allowing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulate tobacco market, by restricting tobacco advertisements, monitoring nicotine content and banning certain tobacco products.

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