State pulls smoking quitline funding

The state’s Tobacco Quitline will significantly cut services starting this week, and will no longer offer full, free support for those who want to quit smoking or using tobacco.

Until Thursday, all adults in the state can call the toll-free quitline — 800-QUIT-NOW, 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, will expire at the end of July.

The state expects a limited amount of new dollars from the CDC starting in August, but it will only cover a single call and does not cover nicotine gum or patches.

People can learn about services available at 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 the 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.

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.

The quitline has been a key part of Washington’s tobacco prevention and control efforts. 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.

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