If your New Year’s resolutions for 2012 include that you’ll quit using tobacco, you’re not alone. There are people waiting to help make this one easier to keep.
A record number of U.S. smokers and smokeless tobacco users are picking up the telephone and calling quit lines for help in breaking their addiction, and the State of Georgia, Southwest Health District, and the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition are in the midst of a campaign to let people know how to do just that by directing them to the Georgia Tobacco Quitline – 1-877-270-STOP.
In Georgia, one out of every six deaths each year are due to tobacco-related diseases, and approximately $1.8 billion in health care costs among adults aged 18 years and older is attributed to tobacco use.
“Statistics show that there is a large percentage of tobacco users who actually want to quit, they just don’t know that there are resources that can help,” said Remy Hutchins, Health Promotions and Infectious Disease Coordinator with Southwest Health District. “With the resources that are available, such as the Georgia Tobacco Quitline, it’s easier to take that first step.” Among current adult smokers in the United States, approximately 70% report that they want to quit completely.
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced in July that Nicotine Replacement Therapy support would be offered to individuals living in the 14 counties of the local public health district who seek help. Administered through the Quit Line, the program offers uninsured adult callers age 18 and older nicotine patches or gum at no cost.
With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Office of Smoking and Health, the two local agencies have initiated a billboard, print, web, and television media campaign to make individuals aware of the Quit Line, which provides free, confidential counseling tailored to tobacco users ages 13 and older regardless of insurance status. The campaign also warns of the effects of second-hand smoke, citing testimony from one smoker whose non-smoking wife died from exposure to his addiction.
Southwest Health District Program Manager and Deputy Health Director Brenda Greene stressed that the Quit Line not only helps those who want to quit smoking, but spit tobacco users, as well. According to the 2010 Data Summary supplied by the Georgia Department of Community Health, more than 340,000 adults in the state currently use smokeless tobacco.
“Our mission is to get the Quit Line phone number out there in front of as many people as possible,” said Denise Ballard, Vice President of Cancer Prevention and Control with the Cancer Coalition. “By having multiple opportunities to see the message on television, on billboards, in newspapers and magazines, hopefully it will resonate with those who want to quit, or people close to them who can encourage them to take that first step and call.”
Counties in the Southwest Health District are Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas, and Worth.
For more information about the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line and nicotine replacement therapy medications, contact the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-270-STOP (7867).