Iowans who are trying to quit smoking will soon have a new tool at their disposal. Iowa Department of Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks says her agency is launching “Web Coach” — an online program that allows users to track their progress, enter discussion forums and more.

“There are a variety of things you can do in real time, such as the chat room with a web-based counselor, but there are also things you can do that don’t require anybody to present,” Miller-Meeks said. The web-based tool will be available tomorrow at: It’s designed to supplement the phone-based service at 800-QUIT-NOW.

“Anytime you feel the trigger or the draw to smoke, you can get on a web-based site through your phone and have instantaneous access to someone to support you in quitting smoking…it’s going to be very valuable,” Miller-Meeks said. About 20-percent of Iowans smoke and surveys have shown more than 80-percent of those smokers want to quit.

“To be able to offer a new service to people that affords them access, at any point in time, to support to help them quit smoking and gives them additional tools…I think it’s going to help bring our (smoking) prevenance rate down,” Miller-Meeks said. In 2011, approximately 2,800 Iowa deaths were directly attributable to tobacco use. Another 1,600 deaths were identified as “likely” being due to tobacco use, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.