Hoosiers hoping to quit smoking no longer will be required to obtain a prescription from a doctor before purchasing tobacco cessation drugs.
On Monday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box issued a standing order, effective Aug. 1, waiving the individual prescription mandate for stop smoking products at Indiana pharmacies.
Indiana is the 12th state with a policy or standing order allowing pharmacists to directly provide tobacco cessation products, which Box said will eliminate financial and time barriers for Hoosiers who are considering quitting smoking.
The state's Medicaid program also is scrapping co-payments for tobacco cessation products used by pregnant women, or women who are one year postpartum.
"Studies show that women are more likely to quit smoking during pregnancy because they want to give their baby the best possible start in life," Box said.
"Quitting tobacco will improve maternal health and send us farther down the path to achieving Gov. (Eric) Holcomb's goal of being best in the Midwest in infant mortality by 2024."
Nearly one in four Hoosier women smoke during pregnancy, compared to approximately 8% of pregnant women nationwide, according to data tracked by the Indiana State Department of Health.
Studies show pregnant women who smoke are twice as likely to have a preterm birth, which is the leading cause of infant mortality in Indiana. Smoking during pregnancy also increases the risk of stillbirth by nearly 50% and neonatal death by more than 20%.
"Increasing access to smoking cessation products and further reducing barriers to success will help improve both maternal and infant health," said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.
Indiana has the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation, and ranks third in the United States for maternal mortality.