Free nicotine replacement therapy to help Nebraskans quit smoking

Cigarette butt (KHGI)

In Nebraska, there's an estimated 243 thousand smokers, or about 17 percent of the state's adult population. That's according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tobacco Free Hall County wants to see these numbers decrease and they're providing helping tools for free.

"We know that over 25 hundred Nebraskans die every year from tobacco related illnesses," said Tobacco Free Hall County coordinator, Michaela Perry.

This is just one of the reasons Tobacco Free Hall County is offering free, two–week supplies of nicotine replacement therapy.

"We know that currently in the United States there's 16 million people suffering from tobacco related illnesses," said Perry. "COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, all those things. We know that it is dangerous, and we know that it's highly addictive, and we know how hard it can be to quit."

They also know, for many, a support team during this time is critical.

That's why, they also offer free phone sessions with a trained quit counselor.

"There's over 170 different languages that they will speak," said Perry. "So, if you don't speak English that's not a problem. They can still help you out and they'll get you a trained quit counselor that can speak to you."

According to Perry, the quit line gets about 200 calls a month from the Nebraska area.

"Last year, we had over 3,000 callers call into the quit line to get information on trying to quit tobacco and get that support that they need to push through, to quit," said Perry. "It is hard to quit, so we want to be here to help them."

While the number of tobacco users for 2018 hasn't been released yet, the organization said they're already concerned about change.

"We do know that the tobacco users numbers are going down and we've been seeing a decline in those numbers, which is awesome," said Perry. "We want to help smokers quit, but lately we have been seeing a surge of the e–cigarette users whether it's people that have used combustible tobacco before or new youth starting, and so that's something that we're really concerned about. We're scared these numbers are going to start going up again."

The quit line can be reached at 1–800–QUIT–NOW.

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