Central Iowans who are trying to kick cigarettes can get free nicotine patches through a new pilot program that could expand statewide in the coming months, if more state funding materializes. Dan Ramsey, project director at the American Lung Association’s Des Moines office, says cigarette prices are rising, there are more smoke-free environments and smoking kills — so why not quit?Iowa smokers who want the free nicotine patches can call either of two toll-free numbers (below), get hooked up with a cessation counselor who helps develop a plan to quit smoking, and then they’ll be sent patch vouchers in the mail that can be redeemed at any of several grocery stores in four central Iowa counties. Ramsey says smokers usually want to quit but often say they can’t afford the patches or any other treatments. He says the idea is to get the two-weeks worth of free nicotine patches and spend the money you would have spent on cigarettes to buy more patches for a full three-to-four-week supply. A seven-day supply of patches can run around 30-dollars, and there’s no prescription needed. The program is currently online in Polk, Madison, Dallas and Warren counties. Ramsey says the program would work well statewide, but it will all depend on what money state lawmakers are able to put toward the effort. He says the C-D-C has recommended Iowa use 19-million dollars a year of its tobacco settlement money for tobacco prevention and cessation, but right now, the state only allots five-million. With proper funding, Ramsey says this program for the free patches would do well across Iowa. To learn more, call 866-QUIT-YES or 866-U-CAN-TRY.
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