TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Smoking related illnesses cost the United States an estimated $40 billion a year, according to Medicare's Chief medical officer. In an effort to curb those costs and safe lives, Medicare will soon offer free counseling sessions to smokers trying to kick the habit.
A Medicaid patient says the sessions really do work.
Della Hutchins has been smoking for 35 years. Not only has it caused her serious medical problems, she says the second-hand smoke has hurt her loved ones.
"My mother has lung cancer and it has spread," said Hutchins in between tears.
Monday morning she was back in the doctor's officer, looking to help herself.
"I've been trying to quit," she said. "I'm at a half a pack of cigarettes."
Years ago, Hutchins took counseling sessions at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas to kick her habit. For three months, she didn't pick up a cigarette.
"We all had a plan and they were all different because we were all different individuals," she said.
She's here to give it another shot, determined to stop smoking.
"Without the will you can't really accomplish anything," said Hutchins.
Not only will the counseling sessions help smokers kick the habit, Dr. James Stocks, who counsels smokers, says society as a whole will also benefit. He says in order for the sessions to work, patients must have a desire to quit.
"They can quit and that's the message that smokers need to hear is that in spite of failing in spite of multiple attempts that didn't work, they can get off the cigarettes," said Stocks.
"I have grandchildren that could pick up the habit and I don't set a very good example," said Hutchins.
In the coming months, Hutchins hopes she will be the example she has been looking to set.
Stocks says smoking cessation does not always work at first. He says it may take several tries, but urges smokers to stick with the counseling sessions.
To find a smoking cessation near you, call the American Cancer Society in Tyler at 903-597-1383.
What do you think about Medicare's strategy? Will offering free counseling sessions to smokers help them kick the habit and ultimately cut down on the $40 billion in illness costs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.