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N.C. bars, restaurants smoke-free starting January 2

On January 2, North Carolinas restaurants and bars will become smoke-free by law. The leading organization dedicated to improving lung health and preventing lung disease, the American Lung Association in North Carolina, has issued a statement commending Gov. Perdue and lung health champions like bill sponsor Rep. Hugh Holliman for protecting North Carolinians from exposure to secondhand smoke.

The Lung Association statement applauds the decision to provide Medicaid recipients and state employees with the tools they need to quit smoking, including cessation counseling, prescription drug therapies, and quitting aids like gum and patches.

In 2010, the State Health Plan will move smoking cessation pharmaceuticals from a third-tier copayment of $55 per month to a second-tier copayment of $35 per month.

Smokers who would like to quit can also access a wealth of support from the American Lung Association. Its Lung HelpLine, 1-800-LUNG USA (1-800-586-4872), has quit-smoking specialists available to talk with, and their online smoking cessation program can be found at www.ffsonline.org.

According to the Lung Association statement, North Carolina is poised to have a healthier year in 2010, but there is still much to be done to ensure our air is free of the pollutants that cause lung disease. The American Lung Association will continue the fight for healthy lungs and air we care about every breath you take.