About 70 percent of smokers really want to quit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Thursday, November 16, the Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to take the first step by quitting for the day or making a plan to quit for good.
The American Cancer Society has sponsored the Great American Smokeout since 1970. In Alabama, 21.4 percent of adults are smokers compared to the national rate of 15 percent. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, and kills more than 8,600 adults in Alabama each year. Annually, the state spends more than $1.88 billion in health care costs directly caused by smoking.
The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Quitline can help smokers quit tobacco. Callers can dial 1-800-Quit Now (1-800-784-8669) for free help to quit. Quitline services include an individualized quit plan, master’s level counseling, and up to eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) patches if the caller is medically eligible and enrolled in the program.
“Our Quitline has helped thousands of callers to quit,” said Julie Hare, ADPH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s cessation manager. “Our counselors can help smokers make a plan to quit. With the counseling and NRT, participants are twice as likely to remain tobacco free,” she said.
Medicaid callers are offered counseling but are referred to Medicaid’s program to obtain their medications. “Medicaid pays for a full course of any of the seven FDA-approved medications to help quit tobacco,” Hare said. “In fact, smokers who want to quit should ask their private insurance carrier about medication coverage,” she said. “Under the Affordable Care Act, tobacco cessation is required to be covered as a preventive service.”
Calling 1-800 Quit Now (1-800-784-8669) from an Alabama area code connects residents with the Quitline. Users can also register for services online at quitnowalabama.com. For more information on quitting tobacco, go to quitnowalabama.com or call 1-800-QUITNOW. The Quitline is open from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.