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Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt established a new tobacco quitline for Missourians who want to quit smoking and using other forms of tobacco.
"Two-thirds of tobacco users in Missouri have told us they would like to quit. Now we are giving them a tool to help," Blunt said. "This is a step in the right direction in Missouri's tobacco-cessation efforts."
Missouri has lagged behind most of the nation the past few years in putting resources into reducing tobacco use, according to the governor's press release. The state ranks among the bottom in state spending for tobacco prevention.
Blunt recommended in his fiscal year 2006 budget $875,000 of the proceeds from a settlement reached with several of the smaller tobacco companies be used to institute new youth tobacco prevention programs. The proposal, however, was not included in the final budget passed by the General Assembly.
"I will continue to push for funding to address smoking in Missouri," Blunt said. "Missourians who are ready to quit using tobacco products can call, toll-free, 1-800-QUIT-NOW [1-800-784-8669]."
Other states using the service have documented the quitline has helped thousands. Research shows that half of Missouri's 1.1 million adult smokers have tried to quit at least once during the last year. It is also estimated that almost two-thirds would like to quit.
The quitline service will be provided by Free & Clear Inc., which has shown one-year quit rates of 25 percent to 32 percent among individuals it has counseled. The state of Washington has made Free & Clear's Tobacco Treatment Program the cornerstone of its tobacco use prevention program for the past four years. In that time, the state has documented 115,000 fewer smokers statewide. The Washington Department of Health estimates having Free & Clear on the job has prevented 38,000 early tobacco-related deaths and saved the state $1.4 billion in future medical costs.
Missouri's new quitline service is made possible through funding by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The service is available to all adult Missourians, and special provisions for extended counseling will be available to pregnant women, Medicaid recipients and the uninsured. All callers to the quitline will be provided an intensive counseling session and a Quit Kit of self-help materials to help them stay on track with their personalized quit plan.