Smokers' Quitline Back In Operation
The Illinois Tobacco Quitline reopened for business at noon today, thanks to funding restored on April 30 due to higher-than-expected Illinois tax receipts.
All 27 employees laid off as a result of the cuts have returned to work. They shut down when Gov. Bruce Rauner announced on Good Friday that he was slashing $26 million in social service and public health grants.
The Quitline helps smokers end the habit, reducing the burden caused by smoking and saving the state millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
The American Lung Association's Kathy Drea says the Quitline has a high success rate of 43 percent. It also is a resource for low-income residents who can't afford other help.
"We provide nicotine replacement therapy -- patches and gum -- to clients who call,” she said, “and don't have access to that through their insurance companies, or have no other way to get those products.”
Drea says that saves money in the long-term.
The economic costs of smoking to Illinois, according to the Lung Association, includes $5.49 billion in direct healthcare costs and $5.27 billion in lost productivity costs annually. This includes $1.9 billion in costs to the state Medicaid program.
The Quitline is funded by the Master Tobacco Settlement Recovery Fund, not taxpayer dollars. The hotline can be reached at 1-866-QUIT-YES – or 1-866-784-8937