The one dollar increase in Iowa’s cigarette tax took effect on March 15th, and health officials have noticed that a lot of smokers in the state are trying to quit. Bonnie Mapes, with the Iowa Department of Public Health, says the number of calls to Quitline Iowa have tripled since the tax passed.
Mapes says, for now, tracking the number of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW is the best indicator of how many Iowans are trying to kick the habit. Officials will, however, begin an extensive telephone survey next year. "We won’t have data on the impact of the tax on all of the different tobacco use behaviors for another year," Mapes says, "so the calls to the quit line are really the best indicator of how many Iowans are trying to quit smoking."
Mapes says the biggest key to quiting is counseling."Most people think if they get a patch or gum – that’s sort of the magic bullet," and while Mapes says those do help with withdrawl symptoms, "they don’t really help with the psychological addiction and the habit." Around 18-percent of Iowans currently smoke cigarettes. Today is World No Tobacco Day, an effort by the World Health Organization to encourage people to quit smoking.