Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press Twenty-year smoker Chuck Honeycutt of Chattanooga takes a smoking break outside the Bi-Lo on Chickamauga Avenue in Rossville.
Georgia health officials are hoping to ease the pain of smokers looking to kick the habit.
The Georgia Department of Community Health is offering free nicotine-replacement therapy supplies to uninsured Georgia adults who use the Georgia Quit Line and live in certain regions, including the Northwest Georgia Health District. That district includes Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties.
Most smokers need 10 to 14 attempts at quitting before they succeed, said Dr. Kimberly Redding, director of health promotion and disease prevention programs for the Georgia Department of Community Health, in a news release.
“Georgians who are serious about quitting and need assistance should call the Georgia Quit Line to see if they qualify for nicotine-replacement therapy,” she said.
The 10-county Northwest Georgia Health District has the highest smoking rate in the state, with 27 percent of the adult population smoking, as well as the highest number of smokers, estimated at 96,000, according to state data.
The hot line gives support, counseling and referral services to those over age 13 who want to stop using tobacco products.
Quit Line callers will have access to the nicotine-replacement therapies such as the nicotine patch and nicotine gum on a first-come, first-served basis only, said Ravae Graham, communications specialist with the Georgia Department of Community Health.
The health district that includes Murray and Whitfield counties does not qualify for the program because smoking rates have actually dropped there, likely in part due to utilization of the state’s Quit Line, said Jennifer Moorer, spokeswoman for the North Georgia Health District.
“It has helped a lot of people,” she said.
Across the state, Georgia’s adult smoking rate declined from 22.1 percent in 2005 to 19.5 percent in 2008. The state passed a law in 2005 that banned smoking in most public places.
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Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...