January 4, 2008
Quitting tobacco use can be difficult but not impossible. And for those trying to give up nicotine in the new year, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is more than doubling its resources dedicated to free cessation services provided through the American Cancer Society’s Quitline. This year, DSHS will provide $550,000 for the service, up from $250,000 provided in 2007.
The toll-free multi-lingual telephone counseling service, at 1-877-YES-QUIT (877-937-7848), is available to all Texans trying to quit smoking or dipping. Calls to the Quitline have increased significantly since DSHS began funding the service in 2001, totaling more than 6,250 calls in the last fiscal year.
A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant for cessation services and funds from the Texas tobacco settlement provide the DSHS funding directed to the Quitline.
“One of the most important things we can do to improve the health of Texans is to help those who smoke to quit,” said Penny Harmonson, DSHS tobacco prevention and control program manager. “Research shows that those who get help through a service such as the Quitline are more successful at breaking their nicotine addiction than those who go it alone.”
The Quitline provides free, confidential telephone counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with tools and strategies tailored to each individual caller. The service also offers callers self-help booklets and advice about support programs available in their communities. Resources and information to help you quit tobacco use also are available online at www.yesquit.com.
In addition to the Quitline service, your chance of success is even better, Harmonson said, if you talk to your doctor about medications that can help ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The adult smoking rate in Texas dropped below 20 percent for the first time in 2006 with a rate of 18.1 percent, below the national average of 20.2 percent. Still, more than 3 million Texans continue to smoke, and 24,000 of them die from tobacco-related illnesses each year.
The Quitline service is available year-round, but demand usually peaks as a new year begins when many smokers resolve to stop using tobacco.
“The new year symbolizes a fresh start for many people, but help is available anytime,” Harmonson said. “The first step is choosing a quit date that’s right for you. Mark it on your calendar and make the call.”
(News Media: For more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, at 512-458-7400.)