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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2015

DHEC helps uninsured smokers quit with free nicotine gum and patches 

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Free nicotine replacement therapy is available for smokers who do not have health insurance, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

"Many people without health insurance delay using effective aids like nicotine gum or patches to help them quit smoking because they worry about the costs," said Sharon Biggers, director of the agency's Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control. "We are helping smokers overcome this barrier and increase the likelihood of quitting."

Biggers said that tobacco users who want to kick the habit in 2015 can call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The quitline is open from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

An estimated 759,000 South Carolinians smoke cigarettes. Launched in 2006, the S.C. Tobacco Quitline has served over 67,000 people, helping thousands of South Carolinians quit tobacco use, and providing support to doctors, family members, and friends who want to encourage a loved one to quit.

 All South Carolinians, insured or uninsured, who call the quitline are guaranteed at least one free session with a trained quit coach and a referral to local resources. Many callers are eligible for up to five free sessions with a quit coach, and pregnant tobacco users can get up to 10 free sessions.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in S.C., claiming the lives of more than 59,000 South Carolinians since 2005, and linked to over $2 billion in annual health care costs to the state.  For every dollar spent on DHEC's smoking cessation programs, South Carolina saves an estimated $13.91 in medical expenses, lost productivity, and other costs.

For more information, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/quitforkeeps . 

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For media inquiries:
Cassandra Harris
Public Information Officer
HARRISCS@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127