People continue to smoke, and they have difficulty quitting for a reason. Nicotine is one of the most powerful addictive substances, and the tobacco industry has spent decades engineering cigarettes to be the most effective drug-delivery device known to humans.
A cigarette’s main addictive component is nicotine. Nicotine, as delivered by cigarettes, actually changes the way a person’s brain works, causing a smoker to crave more and more of it. It works the same way as heroin or cocaine in that respect.
In addition to the physical addiction, there are other factors that make quitting hard, whether emotional (how you feel when you smoke), social (being around other smokers) or behavioral (habits and rituals such as smoking while on break at work). For these reasons and more, quitting is hard to do, and staying quit can be even harder. Fortunately, there is help, and evidence shows that getting help to quit improves a smoker’s chances of success.
Getting help . . . helps
Thankfully, there is help, and help is effective. Using evidence-based treatment to quit smoking can double success rates over cold-turkey attempts. Evidence-based treatments include counseling (either in person or by telephone), as well as FDA-approved medications. Approved medications include nicotine-replacement therapies, such as patches, gum or lozenges, which are available over-the-counter without a prescription, as well as some prescription medications. While either counseling or medications can improve a smoker’s chances of quitting, using both together is the most effective.
Free quitting services are available
All Minnesota adults have access to free quitting help. QUITPLAN® Services offers a wide array of quitting tools. People can choose individual services or sign up for the QUITPLAN Helpline for the complete program.
QUITPLAN Individual Services and the QUITPLAN Helpline are available in Spanish (with the exception of texting, which is available in English only). Helpline coaching in additional languages is available through interpreter services.
The QUITPLAN® Helpline
The QUITPLAN® Helpline offers a complete program, including one-on-one phone coaching with trained tobacco counselors and free patches, gum or lozenges, plus additional integrated tools (e.g., text messages and email) to help enrollees quit. The QUITPLAN Helpline is available to adult Minnesotans who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover cessation counseling and or medications. Those who do have health insurance will be transferred to their health plans’ quitlines to receive counseling and medication help.
Individual QUITPLAN® Services
Individual QUITPLAN Services are available to all Minnesotan adults, regardless of insurance status. Individuals can register for any or all of the below individual services.
- Starter Kit of Patches, Gum or Lozenges: Two weeks of free of patches, gum or lozenges to get you started. (Available to Minnesota adults – 18 or older.)
- Text Messaging: Tips, games and reminders texted right to your phone. (Available to Minnesota adults – 18 or older.)
- Email Program: A series of emails full of tips, advice and encouragement.
- Quit Guide: A resourceful guide, available as a download or mailed copy.
For more information on QUITPLAN Services, tobacco use and quitting, visit www.quitplan.com.
What can we do about it?
How can you help?
As a trusted source of information within the community, organizations that work with low-SES populations can help increase awareness of available quit-smoking services and refer clients and patients to them. Smoking remains the top preventable cause of death and disease, and it harms the health and financial wellbeing of low-SES individuals at far greater rates than those at higher income and educational levels.
Helping low-SES populations quit smoking has significant, far-reaching benefits:
- Improved physical health and financial health leads to greater family wellbeing:
- Kids are not exposed to secondhand smoke
- Smokers are better able to engage in family activities
- Less money spent on cigarettes, increased productivity and reduced health care costs result in more money available for necessary items like food and housing
- Tobacco cessation begins to address larger forces that impact overall health and wellbeing:
- Smoking is a contributor to poverty
- Smoking is a contributor to health disparities
- Helping people quit reduces tobacco industry control over low-income individuals and communities