cigaretteA service offered by the state to smokers who are trying to quit has been snuffed out. Free two week supplies of nicotine-replacement patches or nicotine gum were part of the Quitline Iowa program for two-and-a-half years until last Wednesday.

Aaron Swanson, with the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Division of Tobacco Control and Prevention, says the Quitline service is still in operation. “The patches and gum – that’s just one tool Iowans have to quit,” Swanson said. “The counseling service and coaching that people can receive to help build a quit plan…that is unchanged and people can still get that from this point forward.”

The free patches and gum service was stripped from the Quitline program as part of a budget cutting move. Around half of the 54,000 people who called Quitline Iowa since January 2008 took advantage of the free offer.

Swanson suggests smokers who will now purchase the nicotine patches or gum from a retailer are making a good investment. “In most cases, they’ll sell a two-week supply for about $25, which is actually less than the cost of a week’s supply of cigarettes for a pack-a-day smoker,” Swanson said. “So, if you look at it from that perspective, if I don’t smoke for about a week or two, I can save that money and use it to help fund the cost of quitting.”

The Quitline Iowa service, launched in 2001, is available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or online at