NU Online News Service, April 21, 2003, 4:11 p.m. EDT – Highmark Inc., Pittsburgh, a company that holds the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licenses for western Pennsylvania, estimates that treating tobacco-related lung cancer in that region costs more than $42 million a year.

The company, which provides or administers major medical coverage for 1.4 million people in western Pennsylvania, came up with the cost figure by analyzing data from its own claims databases. The figure includes the cost of paying for drugs, care by doctors and other professionals, and care by hospitals and other facilities.

Highmark says its group smoking-cessation program has a success rate of 55%. But it reports that only 1,653 people have completed the program since 1998.