Lifestyle

Washington State Tobacco Quitline services reduced

Beginning Aug. 1, the Washington State Tobacco Quitline will significantly cut services, and will no longer offer full, free quit support to Washington residents.

Until then, all adults in Washington can call the toll-free quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW, 1-855-DEJELO-YA in Spanish) for some level of free support, including counseling, a personal quit plan, a quit kit, and referrals to local resources. Eligible callers can also get a supply of nicotine patches or gum.

State funding for the quitline, as well as support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will expire at the end of July. Limited, new funding is expected from the CDC starting in August, but it will only cover a single call and does not cover nicotine gum or patches. Updated information on the services that are available to people in Washington, including online resources, can be found on the Department of Health Quitline website (www.quitline.com).

Some insurance plans provide cessation coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, all new health insurance plans in Washington state beginning in 2014 will be required to cover tobacco cessation help. Specific coverage will vary by plan, so insurance providers should be contacted to confirm coverage.

Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in the state. In Washington, about 8,000 people die each year from smoking-related causes. Quitting lowers the risk of lung cancer, heart attack, stroke, chronic lung disease, and other cancers. When a person quits smoking, their body starts to respond quickly. Within 12 hours of quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the body drop to normal.

The quitline has been a key part of Washingtonā€™s tobacco prevention and control efforts, which have contributed to a 30 percent drop in adult smoking since 2000. More than 147,000 people have received help from the quitline since it opened in 2000. Today, there are many more former smokers in Washington than there are current smokers. The estimated 329,000 fewer smokers in the state has represented an overall savings of $3 billion in future health care costs.

More information on tobacco use in Washington is available on the Department of Health website (www.doh.wa.gov) and find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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