Health and Family Services Cabinet
Public Health Promotes Tobacco Quit Line to Potential Quitters
Upcoming Tax Increases Could Encourage More People to Kick the Habit
In light of tax increases on the purchase of tobacco products, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is offering assistance to the many Kentuckians who may be considering quitting smoking or smokeless tobacco.
The Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT NOW, is a public health service that helps residents of the state who are trying to quit smoking. The free service provides ongoing counseling to those working through the quitting process and houses information on other quitting resources, such as the Cooper/Clayton Method to Stop Smoking offered through local health departments.
“With the cost of cigarettes increasing, we anticipate that large numbers of people will attempt to quit smoking,” said DPH Commissioner William Hacker, M.D. “The Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line is a wonderful, free resource that offers counseling and support for anyone interested in or trying to quit. I strongly encourage Kentuckians to use this free and highly effective resource.”
The federal government recently passed legislation to more than double the federal cigarette tax to pay for an expansion of health insurance for poor children. The 62-cents per pack increase, which amounts to a total federal tax of $1.01, takes effect April 1. Similarly, Kentucky legislators voted to increase the state excise tax on cigarettes by 30 cents, bringing the state tax to 60 cents per pack. The state tax increase also takes effect April 1.
DPH projects the increased cost of cigarettes will have a dramatic impact on household budgets, estimating that a pack-a-day smoker will spend more than $1,380 on cigarettes in a year and a two pack-a-day smoker will spend almost $2,760.
“We anticipate the cost of tobacco will rise dramatically as not only the taxes increase, but also the tobacco industry adjusts its prices to make up for lost revenue as more people stop using tobacco products,” said Irene Centers, coordinator of Kentucky’s tobacco prevention and cessation program. “The time to quit is now. Every smoker deserves the emotional, practical and medical support they need to quit successfully. Kentucky’s Tobacco Quit Line helps provide that support.”
The Quit Line provides each caller access to a trained cessation specialist who will work with the caller to help him or her quit and avoid things that lead back to tobacco.
After the initial call, smokers may receive up to five scheduled call backs from their counselor. For smokers considering quitting, the Quit Line staff will provide information about tobacco use and treatment options. Counselors will provide state and local resources to callers as another option for tobacco cessation. Parental consent is required for callers under 18.
Kentucky’s Tobacco Quit Line is available statewide, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. After regular hours, callers can leave a message, and their call will be returned.
The Quit Line (1-800-QUIT NOW) services are available in English and Spanish. For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, TDY/TDD is available at (800) 969-1393.
Counselors will request brief demographic information from callers such as age, smoking history and zip code; however, all calls are confidential. There is no limit in the number of times someone can participate in the Quit Line counseling program. Tobacco users who may have contacted the Quit Line previously then returned to smoking are encouraged to try again.
If employers want to help their employees quit, information is available through the Quit Line and local health departments. Group sessions and cessation materials can be made available at the worksite.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States as well as Kentucky. At present, Kentucky’s smoking rate, at 28.2 percent, is dramatically higher than the national average of 19.8 percent, and nearly 8,000 Kentuckians die prematurely each year of tobacco use. Smoking is a major risk factor for the four leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic pulmonary disease.
According to the 2008 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking, smoking harms virtually every organ in the body. In addition to lung cancer, heart attacks and stroke, cigarette smoking has been found to cause coronary heart disease, ulcers, and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas.
For more information about the Quit Line, contact Jan Beauchamp at Jan.Beauchamp@ky.gov or (502) 564-9358, ext. 3817.