New Jersey wants to help residents quit smoking

    New Jersey residents looking to quit smoking are getting a little help from the state. The Department of Health and Senior Services announced yesterday the expansion of its nicotine replacement therapy program to include all state residents.

    Cathy Butler of New Jersey Quitline tells NewsWorks the free quit-smoking program is a “one-time benefit” available to New Jerseyans until the supplies run out. The program began in April, but was only previously only available to the uninsured and those on Medicaid. Now everyone has the opportunity to receive eight weeks’ worth of free supplies and up to five free counseling sessions.

    Merle Weitz, director of Quitline’s Moms Quit Connection, says although New Jersey has a good smoking rate comparatively, she thinks those who contintue to smoke are very addicted, making it harder to quit. Nicotine gum is sold over the counter, she says, “but is difficult to figure out,” often resulting in misuse. That’s where the counseling sessions come in.

    The program will provide free quit-smoking patches and gum to New Jersey smokers, provided they meet the following qualifications:

    they join the free New Jersey Quitline
    they are 18 or older

    Despite a slow start as the NJDHSS waited for the state finance department to release the funding, Butler says as of last week, 550 New Jersey residents had enrolled. Weitz says the program will continue to help New Jerseyans quit smoking as long as the supplies last.

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