Smokers in Kansas Can Get Free Tobacco Cessation Products

For a short time, smokers in Kansas can obtain smoking cessation products for free.

For a short time, smokers in Kansas can obtain smoking cessation products for free.

Between June 20, 2016, and July 1, 2016, those seeking to quit tobacco can access free nicotine replacement therapies, including gum, lozenges, or patches, from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

Smokers must register with the state’s Quitline within that timeframe to get the benefits. The Kansas Tobacco Quitline will provide a 2-week supply of enrollees’ choice of cessation product directly to their home free of charge.

“We want all tobacco users to know that although quitting is hard, they can do it. Smokers often try to quit several times before succeeding, but proven treatments and services are available that can improve your chances of quitting for good,” said KDHE community health promotion section director Jennifer Church, MS, RD, LD, in a press release. “We encourage all Kansas smokers to try to quit, and if they want free help, to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The opportunity, which is part of the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers national tobacco education campaign, allows smokers to explore which cessation method might be the best option for them.

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association investigated whether OTC products like the nicotine patch, prescription drugs like varenicline (Chantix), or combination nicotine replacement therapy were equally effective for smoking cessation.

“The results suggest that the widely available, simple to use nicotine patch can produce long-term smoking cessation rates that are similar to those produced by more intense treatments,” lead study author Tim Baker, a public health researcher at the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, told Reuters.

However, smoking cessation strategies should extend beyond drug therapies to include a pharmacist counseling component. The benefits of a pharmacist’s inclusion in smoking cessation efforts are widely known. For example, pharmacists are in a pivotal position to help patients choose the most effective smoking cessation methods.

“Pharmacists around the state are promoting the [Quitline] and we are actively working on recruiting more to promote this service,” said Cassie Sparks, a public information officer with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in an interview with Pharmacy Times.

Sparks particularly touted the role of the pharmacist in community-level cessation efforts.

“We have seen success with CVS and Walgreens walk-in clinics promoting Quitline services to its customers,” she said. “Community pharmacists are a largely untapped resource, with huge potential to promote smoking cessation because they interface with patients daily.”

Lisa Kroon, PharmD, CDE, clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy, previously told Pharmacy Times that “a comprehensive tobacco cessation program involves both behavioral support and also medication support.”

According to the KDHE, 18% of adults in Kansas smoke cigarettes. According to the CDC, 480,000 individuals nationwide die from smoking, while 16 million others live with smoking-related complications.

Smokers can always call the Kansas Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) for free help with getting medication and quit assistance.