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MONTGOMERY – Thousands of Alabama smokers resolve to quit every New Year. Here’s how to make 2019 the year for success.
The Alabama Department of Public Health offers free assistance to stop any form of tobacco use, including vaping and e-cigarettes, through the Tobacco Quitline. The Quitline helps callers develop an individualized quit plan, offers coaching, and provides up to eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) patches if the user is medically eligible and enrolled in the coaching program. All services at the Quitline – 1-800-QUIT-NOW – are free to Alabama residents.
Quitline services are available every day from 6 a.m. to midnight, with calls placed after hours or on holidays returned the next business day. The Quitline schedules phone coaching sessions at the caller’s convenience, according to Quitline Manager Julie Hare. Online services are available at www.QuitNowAlabama.com.
If the caller is eligible for NRT, it is mailed directly to the caller’s home. Medicaid callers will be referred to Medicaid for their cessation medications. “Because Medicaid pays for any of the seven Food and Drug Administration-approved cessation medications, we require Medicaid recipients to get their medications through Medicaid’s program,” she said. “We can assist their doctor with the authorization process.”
All those enrolled in the program will be asked to set a quit date within 30 days and work with a coach to make a plan. Studies show the combination of coaching and medication doubles the chances of being successful, Hare said.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. In Alabama, some 8,600 people die annually from tobacco use. Almost one-third of cancer deaths in Alabama are attributable to smoking, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
According to the 2017 Adult Tobacco Survey, more than 50 percent of Alabamians who smoke said they tried to quit at least once during the past year. It can take multiple attempts for a person to quit, Hare said. There are now more former smokers than are current smokers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on quitting, contact the Quitline at 1-800-784-8669.