Free medications available to help Wyandotte County residents stop smoking

Wyandotte County residents who use tobacco products will be eligible for free medications to help them quit. The free medications will be available from May 31 to June 30 while supplies last.

Free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) will be available to the county’s residents who call the Kansas Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669). To receive the medications, callers must enroll in the Quitline program with a trained coach and must be medically eligible to receive the free medication. The medications include nicotine lozenges, gum, and patches.

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Kansas. But it is an even greater health threat in Wyandotte County, where the smoking rate is higher than national and state averages. Nearly 24 percent of the county’s adults smoke, compared to a state average of just under 18 percent. These smokers, and the non-smoking loved ones who live with them, are at greater risk of heart disease, asthma, cancer, stroke, and other diseases.

“We recognize that quitting is hard,” said Rebecca Garza, the Tobacco Free Wyandotte coordinator for Healthy Communities Wyandotte. “But we also know that quitting is possible. There are proven treatments and services available that can help people who use tobacco products quit for good.”

More than half of Wyandotte County adults who smoke tried to quit at least once in the last year. Garza said that smokers are more likely to have success quitting if they combine the use of medications with counseling available through services like the Quitline.

“Using these together is more effective than using either one alone,” Garza said. “The medications are especially effective at reducing the urge to smoke and other withdrawal symptoms experienced while trying to quit.”

Research shows that quitting can result in many health benefits. Stopping smoking:
• Reduces your heart disease risk almost immediately
• Lowers your risk for lung cancer, and other types of cancer
• Reduces respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath
• Reduces risk infertility in women of childbearing age, and reduces the risk of low birthweight babies for women who stop smoking during pregnancy

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which operates the Kansas Quitline (1-800-784-8669), is providing the free medication to Wyandotte County residents while supplies last. Go to http://www.hcwyco.org/freenrt for more information.

– Story from Healthy Communities Wyandotte

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