There’s Never Been A Better Time To Quit

In Local News, State News on April 13, 2009 at 8:55 am


In the week when the federal tax on cigarettes was increased by 62 cents a pack, calls to the free Indiana Tobacco Quitline – 1-800-QUIT-NOW – increased by nearly 400 percent.

“The federal tax increase on tobacco products went into effect on April 1st and we received more than 1,100 calls this week. It demonstrates to us – as never before – just how many people really want to quit and they are taking the steps to a healthier life and, in the process, saving themselves a great deal of money,” said Karla Sneegas, executive director, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation.

Sneegas said the call volume has been surging dramatically in recent weeks, hitting a previous high of 952 calls in mid-March after the tobacco industry increased its prices on a pack of cigarettes by as much as 70 cents in anticipation of the federal tax hike. 

The focus on smoking cessation in Indiana is also gaining ground among health care providers.

State Health Commissioner Calls on Providers to Make a Difference

In conjunction with the federal tobacco tax increase taking effect, State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. called on Indiana’s licensed health care providers to be prepared to help their patients quit. Earlier this week, she sent a letter along with resource materials to all physicians, dentists, advanced practice nurses, and pharmacists encouraging them to use their influence as health care providers to help their patients quit smoking.

“The increase in the federal cigarette tax makes it an ideal time for us to remind Hoosiers that there’s never been a better time to quit,” said Dr. Monroe. “Health care providers should take advantage of this opportunity and talk to their patients about the benefits of quitting and educate them about resources they can use to overcome their addiction. We can’t afford to miss this chance to help those who want to quit.” 

Health care providers are encouraged to “ask and advise” their patients to quit. Indiana’s health care providers can become part of the QUITNOW Referral Network to the Indiana Tobacco Quitline, a free confidential phone counseling service staffed by trained quit coaches who are ready to provide help for tobacco users who are ready to try to quit.   The Quitline can be reached by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

The call for assistance from health care providers was addressed this week in Indianapolis, as public health professionals from across the Hoosier state gathered for the Indiana Joint National Public Health Week Conference.   During a special workshop on increasing statewide collaboration on tobacco cessation, Dr. Judy Monroe was joined by tobacco cessation advocates to develop plans for a statewide summit to be held later in 2009.

Diane M. Canova, managing senior fellow and senior program officer for the Washington, D.C.-based Partnership for Prevention, provided a national “lay of the land” perspective on tobacco cessation issues and reviewing recommendations developed by the Partnership in 2008.

“The overarching goal of the Call for A.C.T.T.I.O.N. (Access to Cessation Treatment for Tobacco In Our Nation) is to increase the number of smokers in the U.S., who are able to gain access to comprehensive tobacco dependence treatment to 50 percent by 2015 and 100 percent by 2020. The Partnership for Prevention is committed to advancing policies and practices to prevent disease and improve the health of all Americans. As health professionals, we have a tremendous opportunity to come together and dramatically reduce the number of smokers and share with them the fact that help is available for them to quit,” said Canova.  “Indiana can become a model for other states who are interested in collaborative models to stretch our public health resources.”

“The sudden increase in calls to the Indiana Tobacco Quitline in March and now continuing in April is one of the most significant spikes in calls we have experienced”,  said Sneegas.  “Over 90 percent of Indiana smokers want to quit, and this recent price increase provides even more incentive during these tough economic times.”

Open from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m. seven days a week, the free Indiana Tobacco Quitline is available for any Hoosier adult who is ready to quit.  To access the service, tobacco users can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

The Indiana Tobacco Quitline also assists tobacco users who are quitting cigar and spit tobacco use as well as cigarettes.

According to documented research, when the price of cigarettes goes up, more adults quit and more youth don’t start smoking. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates that in Indiana, the federal tobacco tax increase will prompt 27,600 adults to quit smoking and prevent thousands more kids from becoming adults who smoke. That expected decrease will save the state millions in future healthcare and Medicaid costs.

In addition to reducing smoking among adults and youth, the new federal tobacco tax will help fund the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), covering nearly 4 million more children nationwide.


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