BATON ROUGE— More than 5,600 Louisiana tobacco users received free medication last month to help overcome their addiction to tobacco. The initiative was part of a statewide promotion to assist with tobacco cessation by providing a month’s supply of nicotine replacement therapy patches to residents trying to quit tobacco products.
The promotion, which ran during the month of May, was funded by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Tobacco Control Program and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. Citizens who called the State’s Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) received free nicotine replacement therapy patches and cessation counseling.
“With the recent increase in the cost of cigarettes, more and more people are choosing now to quit, and the more support they have, the better their chances of success,” said Tiffany Netters, program manager for the Louisiana Tobacco Control Program.
More than 20 percent of Louisiana residents are smokers or tobacco users. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evidence has shown that all of the commercially available forms of nicotine replacement therapy (the gum, patch, inhaler and tablets/lozenges) are effective in promoting smoking cessation and double the odds of successful quitting.
Follow-up surveys of Louisiana quitline participants from 2006 to 2008 show that 49 percent of participants who had received nicotine replacement therapy and completed counseling were no longer smoking after four months, compared to just 19.5 percent who had had not used nicotine replacement therapy or counseling.
Maine, New York and Ohio have all had similar nicotine replacement therapy promotions and reported positive results. Six months after their promotion, New York conducted a follow-up survey which determined that 22 percent of those who had received nicotine replacement therapy vouchers were no longer smoking, compared to 12 percent of quitline callers who did not receive any vouchers. Findings were similar in Ohio and Maine.
“Promotions like this help reach those who have trouble quitting on their own,” said Ashley Ross, director of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “We hope to continue offering programs like this to help keep residents motivated and reach their goals.”
The Louisiana Tobacco Control Program and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living are partners in the Quit With Us, Louisiana program. The Quit With Us, Louisiana Web site is a resource for those who want to quit on their own, or help a friend or loved one quit. It is also a tool for health care providers with patients who are tobacco users with a desire to quit. Visit www.quitwithusla.org for more information.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.