Want to quit?
December 16, 2005
SUMMIT COUNTY – If you’ve been thinking about quitting smoking, the Colorado Quitline just came up with another incentive.State tobacco tax funds now allow the Colorado Quitline, a free telephone service that helps people quit using tobacco, to offer free nicotine patches to anyone who enrolls in the cessation program. The patch is considered to be one of the most effective and most commonly used cessation treatment options for addicted smokers and tobacco users, said Karen DeLeeuw, director of the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership. “We anticipate that the free, nicotine replacement therapy program will encourage more Coloradans to call the Quitline and, in turn, save many lives and ease the burden of health care costs to the state,” said Douglas H. Benevento, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s executive director. According to state health department statistics, about 130,000 smokers develop smoking-related illnesses every year, creating more than $1 billion in annual healthcare costs in Colorado. Tobacco use kills more than 4,200 Coloradans annually, and it is the state’s leading cause of preventable death. More Coloradans die from smoking each year than AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, homicide, suicide, car accidents and fires combined. And for each tobacco-related death, 20 additional adults suffer from a tobacco-related illness.The Quitline gives free support and advice from a specialist experienced in counseling on quitting smoking. It also offers a personalized quit plan, self-help materials and a four-week supply of nicotine patches. If callers remain in the program, they can get an additional four-week supply of patches, if necessary. Callers must be at least 18 years old.Applied directly to the skin once a day, the patch provides a steady dose of nicotine, which is absorbed into the bloodstream throughout a 16- to 24-hour period. During the quitting period, the user reduces the strength of the patches until they are no longer needed.According to smoking cessation experts, the benefits of nicotine replacement therapy far outweigh the risks of smoking. Nicotine is not proven to cause cancer, and the other toxins in cigarettes are significantly more harmful than the risks associated with nicotine replacement therapy.Since the Quitline started in 2000, more than 13,000 residents have enrolled. The user rate of success for Quitline callers in staying tobacco-free after six months is 28 percent, well above the average for most tobacco cessation programs, DeLeeuw said. Statistics show that tobacco users are seven times more likely to successfully quit with the Quitline than trying it on their own, she said.Want to Quit?Call the Colorado Quitline at (800) 639-QUIT. The service is free and available to Colorado residents in both English and Spanish, seven days a week. The service also is available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing at TTY: 800-659-2656.For local help, contact Summit Prevention Alliance, a community-based nonprofit organization that promotes healthy lifestyles and behaviors through education and prevention services. The number is (970) 668-2077, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.