AL offers free help to quit tobacco as Great American Smokeout nears

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As the American Cancer Society prepares to celebrate the Great American Smokeout, an effort to help people kick the habit for a single day, officials in Alabama are putting extra measures in place to help tobacco users beyond that 24 hour mark.

The Alabama Tobacco Quitline, provided through federal funding, offers 100 percent free help for residents trying to quit. With complete coaching, a personalized quit plan and eight weeks' supply of nicotine patches for enrolled patients who are medically eligible, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) says residents have no excuse for not quitting.

"We can help you quit, but you have to make the call," stresses Quitline Manager Jabari Sullen. The number for the Quitline is 1-800-784-8669.

Registration can also be done online by visiting the program's website here. Once registered, patients are asked to set a quit date within 30 days and to work closely with a coach to design his or her quit plan and a convenient phone coaching schedule.

The ADPH reports that tobacco use in Alabama is high. More than 21.5 percent of Alabama adults are smokers, and more than 8,600 die each year from its use. The state spends nearly $2 billion each year in health care costs directly related to smoking.

Research shows that after just 12 hours of quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. After just two weeks, circulation begins to improve, while lung function increases.

"There is nothing to gain and much to lose by continuing to use tobacco," Sullen says. While the Great American Smokeout lasts just 24 hours, the ADPH strongly encourages residents to take advantage of the free service provided.

Phone lines are open from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week. That number, again, is 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUITNOW).

The Great American Smokeout is set for Nov. 19.

Copyright WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.