QuitLine offers new tool for South Dakota tobacco users

QuitLine offers new tool for South Dakota tobacco users
South Dakotans who want to start the New Year tobacco-free now have another option to help them in their fight to kick the habit. Beginning Jan. 1, the South Dakota QuitLine will offer the medication CHANTIX if prescribed by a doctor and if used in conjunction with the QuitLine's coaching service.

The QuitLine had previously offered CHANTIX to a limited number of repeat users. CHANTIX is non-nicotine prescription medicine specifically developed to help adults quit smoking.

"In the last few months we've been hearing from physicians who want to provide CHANTIX to their patients because it can be very effective for some," said Dr. Gail Gray, Director of Health and Medical Services for the Department of Health. "This gives physicians one more tool they can use to help their patients who want to make the healthy lifestyle choice of quitting tobacco."

South Dakotans who wish to enroll in the QuitLine program should call 1-866-SD QUITS (1-866-737-8487) to speak to a coach who will help them develop a personalized quit plan and explain the nicotine replacement therapy and medication options available.

The QuitLine is funded in part by Initiated Measure 2 passed by voters last November. The ballot measure increased the tax on tobacco products and allocated funds to the Department of Health for tobacco prevention; $2.17 million for tobacco cessation, $1.7 million for community and school programming, and $1.13 million for public education, surveillance and administration.

Great progress has been made in tobacco control in recent years. The adult smoking rate in South Dakota has decreased to 20.3 percent from 27.2 percent in 1998, according to preliminary data from the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). "While the achievements so far are impressive, much remains to be done," said Gray. "Tobacco use is still the single most preventable cause of death and disease – responsible for the death of more than 1,000 people in this state each year."

The Department of Health's Tobacco Control Program coordinates state efforts to reduce death and disease caused by tobacco use, South Dakota's leading cause of preventable death. The program works to prevent people from starting to use tobacco products, help current tobacco users quit, and reduce nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand smoke. The programs efforts include: providing technical assistance and support to individuals, businesses, healthcare providers, and educational institutions; offering funding and support to local entities; conducting statewide public education campaigns; operating the state's tobacco QuitLine; and conducting surveillance and program evaluation.

Reducing tobacco use is a key objective of the department's Health 2010 Initiative.

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