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Este pagina en espanol More tobacco cessation services now available for state employees, teachers

Release Date: March 1, 2010
Contact: Carol Schriber, N.C. DHHS Public Affairs , 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – North Carolinians covered by the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees now have additional help quitting tobacco, thanks to a cooperative effort by the N.C. Division of Public Health, the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission, the State Health Plan and QuitlineNC, the state’s free telephone tobacco-use cessation service.

Tobacco use is a leading cause of a number of chronic diseases – such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease – that are life-threatening and costly to residents and to the state. Helping tobacco users quit is not only essential for employees’ health, it is also one way to reduce costs by preventing some of the adverse health consequences that result from tobacco use.

“State Health Plan members can now receive at least eight weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy patches by calling QuitlineNC at 1-800-QUIT-NOW,” said State Health Director Jeff Engel, M.D. “This combination of telephone coaching and medication can more than triple a tobacco user’s chance of quitting successfully, compared to trying to quit on his or her own.” The Plan provides health care coverage for more than 661,000 state employees, teachers, state university and community college personnel, retirees and their dependents.

The new services reflect the recommendations of the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services, which recommends that employers provide support to help employees quit, including cessation services and reducing the out-of-pocket cost for cessation medications such as nicotine replacement therapy. The Task Force is an independent, non-federal body of public health and research experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review research and make recommendations based on scientific evidence.

“As outlined in the Plan’s Comprehensive Wellness Initiative, we are committed to supporting our members in meeting their wellness goals,” said Jack W. Walker, executive administrator of the State Health Plan.  “Coaching and medication combined represent a best practice in the support of tobacco cessation. For Plan members, these cessation services will make quitting both easier and less expensive. The savings will ultimately also extend to the State Health Plan and taxpayers.”

“Working with QuitlineNC to reach adult smokers who want to quit is both effective and cost-efficient,” said Charles Willson, MD, chair of the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission, which provides funding support to QuitlineNC.  “We applaud the State Health Plan for providing this valuable service to their members – it is both essential for employee health and good for the bottom line”.

Any North Carolina resident can call QuitlineNC toll-free at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services are free and available in Spanish and English, with other translation services provided as needed. Quit Coaches are trained to help people of all ages who are ready to quit cigarettes or other tobacco products. Learn more at Ready NC Connect NC