Iowans who are vowing to quit smoking when 2010 arrives will be able to get a little extra help from the state’s smoking cessation program. Bonnie Mapes, director of the Iowa Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, says it starts with a call to the toll-free phone number.
“Quitline Iowa offers, all year long, a free two-week supply of either nicotine patches, nicotine gum or lozenges,” Mapes says.
“For the month of January, when a lot of people make their New Year’s resolutions and try really hard to quit, we’re going to be offering a free four-week supply, just for the month.”
Mapes says many thousands of Iowans will be making resolutions over the next few days. “One of the most common is to quit smoking and it’s a very hard addiction to break,” Mapes says. “We do know that people who get nicotine replacement therapy, especially if they go on and register for the free Quitline counseling, are twice as likely to be successful at quitting and staying quit.” In this age of budget cuts and state workers being furloughed or fired, Mapes says her division was still able to offer this incentive as the new year begins.
“We have had the Quitline budget cut this year but we were planning on doing this for the month of January and we do have enough of our funding, that we get from the Iowa legislature, to offer this benefit to Iowans just for the one month,” Mapes says. “Last year, we did it though the end of February.”
To reach Quitline Iowa, call 800-Quit Now. You can also visit the website, www.quitlineiowa.org, and use the calculator feature to determine what the smoking habit is costing you. In Iowa, cigarettes cost around $5.18 per pack, which translates to about $36 per week for a pack-a-day smoker. That’s $1,872 a year.
Mapes says the final numbers aren’t in yet, but she estimates Quitline Iowa will have taken between 18- and 20,000 calls this year, very close to last year’s figure. She says the Iowa program has one of the highest per capita usage rates in the nation.