State Quitline Helps Washingtonians Break Free from Tobacco – and it’s FREE

 

Tammy Maine, Health Educator; Youth Marijuana/Tobacco/Vaping Prevention Program, North East Tri-County Health District – 509-685-2625

 

The Washington State Quitline is modernizing its services to meet the ongoing and emergent needs of Washingtonians — from helping adults to quit smoking (a risk factor for severe COVID-19 illness), to curbing the youth vaping epidemic.

 

 

Since November, 2000, the Quitline has provided free, personalized, phone-based tobacco cessation counseling to tens of thousands of callers, saving them money and helping them live longer. Last year, the North American Quitline Consortium ranked the Washington State Quitline second in the nation on participant quit rate.

 

 

“I am so pleased the Quitline continues to be an effective resource for so many people, some of whom have chronic health conditions and limited access to health care,” said Northeast Tri-County Health District’s Tobacco Health Educator, Tammy Maine. “When people choose to quit smoking or vaping, it can be very difficult to resist cravings. The Quitline offers a free program that can double their chances of overcoming nicotine addiction.”

 

An evaluation of 2018-19 Quitline services estimated that nearly 35 percent of participants had quit tobacco seven months after registering, and that for every dollar Washington spends on services, it saves five dollars in lost productivity, medical, and other costs.

 

 

Still, smoking costs Washington more than $2.8 billion in annual health care expenditures. Nationally, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death, and Washington is no exception. Approximately 8,300 Washington adults die each year from smoking, with a disproportionately high burden on minorities and people who receive low wages. As of 2019, 15% of adults in the Better Health Together (BHT) region, which covers Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens Counties, smoke cigarettes.

 

You’re covered whether or not you have insurance. Many Washingtonians, including Medicaid clients, are eligible for tobacco cessation services through their health plans. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant enables the Quitline to provide five counseling calls and two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy to uninsured and underinsured participants. In 2019, the Quitline registered 307 of these participants in the BHT region, 12.1% of whom vape.

 

How to get started: Any Washingtonian can connect with the Quitline to learn about services available to them. In addition to calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, Washingtonians can now text READY to 200-400 to register for free phone-based counseling, as well as text- and web-based cessation support. This support is increasingly tailored to meet the needs of specific populations, from teens who vape to adults with serious mental illness who smoke. Health care providers can also refer patients online at quitline.com.