President Obama announced last week that his administration would back off on a part of the health care reform law (which is currently being rolled out in full force) that would have allowed insurers in small group markets to charge smokers a 50-percent higher premium than nonsmokers.
The catch: smokers have to prove they are trying to quit.
Under the proposed regulation, employees who use tobacco can avoid paying those higher premiums if they participate in a program to quit. The regulation also allows states to eliminate higher rates for smokers altogether.
"This was the administration making lemonade out of lemons in the law," said Erika Sward, assistant vice president at the American Lung Association, which had argued that charging smokers higher premiums would deter people from buying insurance without reducing smoking.
In Florida, more than 17 percent of the adult population are current cigarettes smokers, which is more than 2,509,000 people. The Centers For Disease Control ranks Florida 18th among the states for cigarette use.