Vermont Department of Health and Attorney General Join Forces to Expand Smoking Cessation Program

All Vermonters eligible for free or discounted nicotine patches, gum

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2004

Contact:Moira Cook
Tobacco Control Chief
VT Department of Health
802-863-7592

Barney Brannen
Attorney General’s Office
802-828-4605
bbrannen@atg.state.vt.us

Mark Ray
Kelliher, Samets, Volk
802-862-8261
mray@ksvc.com

Montpelier - Free or discounted nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) - nicotine patches and gum - will be provided for a limited time to all adult Vermonters who want to quit smoking cigarettes, thanks to a significant expansion of the Vermont Department of Health’s NRT program announced during a press conference at 1:30 this afternoon.

The temporary expansion was made possible by $100,000 in funding secured by Attorney General William Sorrell’s office and in cooperation with the Vermont Health Plan, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont , MVP Health Care and CIGNA HealthCare.

Vermonters interested in receiving free or discounted NRT can call the Vermont Quit Line toll free at 1-877-YES-QUIT (937-7848) or can contact the tobacco cessation coordinator at their local hospital. Vermont Quit Line staff also will provide free tobacco cessation counseling that, according to the Vermont Department of Health, doubles smokers’ chances for successfully quitting.

“Thanks to the attorney general and Vermont insurers, we are able to offer more support to Vermonters who want to quit smoking,” said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “Quitting smoking is one of the healthiest lifestyle changes a person can make, but it’s also one of the most difficult - it takes an average of five to seven attempts to quit successfully. Nicotine replacement can help a smoker quit for good.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ) and a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reducing out-of-pocket costs associated with NRT effectively increases the use of cessation therapies, increases both the number of people who attempt to quit and the number of people who quit successfully.

“It is our hope that by committing funds to the NRT program expansion, all Vermonters who want to quit will have affordable and appropriate smoking cessation resources at their fingertips,” said Attorney General William Sorrell, a board member of the American Legacy Foundation and chair of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Tobacco Committee.

This week, all households in Vermont will receive post cards detailing the NRT program expansion and how to register for free or discounted nicotine patches and gum. Those who don’t smoke are encouraged to tell their friends about the program.

Despite the recent drop in adult smoking rates (currently 19.5 percent), an estimated 93,000 adult Vermonters still smoke, and about 1,000 die every year from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer.