By Ralph Schwartz
The state’s free “Tobacco Quitline” is back in operation for all adults after it was cut in 2011 for many who otherwise would have been eligible.
People without insurance were barred from the program as a result of the cuts. Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement today that Washington was the only state without a free tobacco quitline for people without insurance. (Read the state Department of Health’s statement here.)
Over the past year, 6,500 callers were turned away for being ineligible, the statement said.
The service provided at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-877-2NO FUME in Spanish) includes counseling, a customized “quit plan” and in some cases a supply of nicotine patches or gum.
“The best thing a person can do for their health is quit using tobacco,” Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said.
Some statistics from the Department of Health:
- The quitline has served more than 170,000 people since 2000.
- Smoking rates in the state have dropped 30 percent since 2000.
- Fewer smokers means a $3 billion savings in future health care costs.
- Fifty youths in Washington start smoking each day.
- Tobacco-related diseases claim 7,900 lives in the state each year.