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More Idahoans trying to quit smoking

Soaring numbers of Idaho smokers are trying to kick the habit, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reports, to the point that they've used up the rest of the year's worth of funding for a free nicotine replacement therapy program. Since last July, Project Filter has offered Idaho smokers who want to quit a free four-week supply of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges to help them stop smoking. There were 517 requests for that in January, but after the federal tobacco tax jumped, the number was up to 1,400 in March and 4,000 in April.That's it now for the fiscal year; funding for nicotine replacement therapy won't be available again until July 1, when the new budget year starts. Health & Welfare is encouraging smokers to quit now anyway; other resources remain available to help them. Click below to read their full news release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    
May 12, 2009                                                                                                               

Nicotine Replacement Therapy Fund Depleted by High Demand

A record-breaking number of Idahoans sought help in kicking the nicotine habit in April and March, temporarily depleting the funding for Idaho Project Filter’s free Nicotine Replacement Therapy program. Funding for the program will continue when the new state fiscal year begins on July 1.

“We’re ecstatic that so many people are asking for help in quitting smoking,” says Jack Miller, Project Filter program manager. “Quitting tobacco is one of the most important dates a smoker will decide on. If you’ve decided that today is the day, there is help to show you how. You don’t need to wait for July 1.”

Smokers can call the Idaho QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a free telephone counseling service designed to help smokers quit. Smokers can receive up to five free counseling sessions with a trained quit coach at their convenience. There are also community support groups and fee-based quitting smoking classes that smokers can connect with by calling the Idaho CareLine at 211.

Since last July, Idaho smokers have also been able to request a free four-week supply of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges to help them quit smoking. Money for the Nicotine Replacement Therapy program comes from the Millennium Fund, and Idaho legislators voted this spring to continue the program beginning this July.

Recently, the program’s popularity has skyrocketed, causing the original funding to be used sooner than expected. Typically, about 1,300 people seek help each month through Project Filter programs. That number doubled in March after the federal tax on all tobacco products increased and reached more than 6,300 in April. Requests for the free nicotine replacement therapies shot up from 517 in January to 1,400 in March and 4,000 in April.

“These numbers tell us loud and clear that Idahoans want to quit smoking,” says Miller. “We want to encourage people not to put it off. You’ll notice the benefits almost immediately. Your blood pressure decreases in just 20 minutes and your risk of a heart attack begins to decrease after just one day. Most smokers regret the day they started. Nobody regrets the day they stopped.”

In 2007, 19 percent of Idaho adults reported smoking cigarettes. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the US. To learn more about Project Filter, go to


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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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