Baton Rouge – Marking an important milestone in efforts to help smokers quit the habit, 1-800-QUIT-NOW – the toll-free number to call to reach The Louisiana Tobacco Quitline – recently received its one millionth call.

Since it began in November 2004, 1-800-QUIT-NOW has routed one million callers to their respective state quit tobacco hotlines (called “quitlines”), including calls to Louisiana. Quitlines are telephone-based services that help smokers quit through counseling, information, self-help materials and, in some instances, nicotine replacement therapy.

Calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW are free and offer confidential advice and support to Louisiana residents, ages 13 and older, who are ready to quit smoking. Certified counseling is available in English, Spanish and other languages, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help callers conquer their addiction to nicotine.

Each year in the United States, tobacco use is responsible for one in every five deaths and nearly $200 billion in health care costs and lost productivity, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Tobacco use, particularly among young people, is something we must subtantially decrease if we are going to improve the lives of Louisianians,” said Alan Levine, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. “It’s addictive, and smoking can cause cancer, heart disease and other health disorders. We are committed to engaging in the fight to reduce tobacco use – particularly among our young people.”

Health officals believe that the one millionth call demonstrates the program is reaching people who have made a decision to quit.

“Because tobacco is highly addictive, quitting smoking is extremely difficult. Many people will make multiple efforts before they succeed. Studies have shown the average person makes seven or more cessation attempts before they are able to quit tobacco usage,” said Tasha Bergeron, nurse consultant for DHH. “The Louisiana tobacco quitline is an effective and convenient way for tobacco users to receive the help to cease their dependence on tobacco products.”

1-800-QUIT-NOW was developed by the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines, collaboration among the states, CDC and the National Cancer Institute to help tobacco users quit.

Developing a national quitline network was a key recommendation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Tobacco Cessation. Quitlines are a component of a comprehensive anti-tobacco plan that has a goal of preventing three million deaths by getting five million smokers to quit.

The Louisiana Tobacco Quitline is operated by the American Cancer Society and funded by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.

For more information, contact:
Jeremy Bridges; 225-342-2654 or JBridge1@dhh.la.gov