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More Idaho Smokers Seek Help In Kicking Habit

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

A record number of Idaho smokers are taking advantage of free Idaho Project Filter services to help kick the nicotine habit as the federal tax increases on tobacco products.

In March, 2,200 Idaho smokers registered on Idaho QuitNet, a free internet service that offers online support from counselors. That’s triple the number of people who registered in January. Additionally in March, 1,400 smokers requested nicotine patches, gum or lozenges available for free through Idaho’s Nicotine Replacement Therapy program – the biggest single-month request since the program began in July.

“These numbers tell us that smokers want to quit,” says Jack Miller, Project Filter program manager. “We’re seeing that price plays a role, and the federal tax increase is helping smokers get over the hump and make that decision to stop smoking. Once they decide to quit, we’re here to help.”

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The increase in people seeking help quitting smoking in Idaho mirrors a nationwide movement that began a month ago when news of the federal tobacco tax increase began to spread. At the beginning of April, federal tax on all tobacco products increased to $1.01 on each pack of cigarettes.

Smokers can log on to Idaho QuitNet or call 1-800-QUITNOW, a free telephone counseling service, to get help with quitting. Smokers can request four weeks of their choice of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges from either source. The therapies are then shipped directly to smokers’ homes within about a week of requesting them.

Smokers also can get help through free smoking cessation classes in their communities and public health districts. To find out when classes are available, people can call the Idaho Careline at 2-1-1.

“Each resource a smoker uses to help them quit increases their success rate by 15 percent,” says Miller. “We hope even more Idaho smokers take advantage of the free services offered through Project Filter. Quitting is hard – one of the hardest things a smoker will ever do. Calling QuitLine or logging on to QuitNet can save smokers money in the long run and cost them nothing now.”

In 2007, 19 percent of Idaho adults reported smoking cigarettes. Tobacco use takes a heavy toll on the health and pocketbooks of Idahoans. Everyday, four Idaho residents die from tobacco related illnesses, and Idahoans pay over $300 million a year in healthcare costs to treat smoking related illnesses.