Michigan Will Help Uninsured Adults Quit Smoking

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

October 1, 2004

Beginning today, smokers who are uninsured in Michigan may qualify for a free two-month supply of nicotine patches or gum to help them quit smoking.

The nicotine patches or gum will be supplied to uninsured Michigan adults through the free “I Can Quit” Telephone Coaching Program, funded by the Michigan Department of Community Health. The program is funded with $1.5 million in smoking prevention dollars.

“Every effort the state of Michigan can make to help citizens – especially those that are uninsured in Michigan – quit smoking is a step in the right direction,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Given the limited amount of state resources we had available to begin this endeavor, we decided to target the program specifically toward those citizens that need help with paying for patches or gum.”

Olszewski said nicotine reduction therapies are usually covered for individuals enrolled in private health insurance programs.

Each year, Michigan spends $881 million in its Medicaid program alone treating tobacco-related illnesses. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease among all populations in the United States – resulting in 400,000 deaths annually, 15,000 of them in Michigan.

Anyone who wants to quit smoking or chewing tobacco can call the state’s toll-free number for free peer coaching; however, only those without health insurance will qualify for the free nicotine patches or gum.

In order to receive free nicotine patches, uninsured callers must enroll in the coaching portion of the program and set a quit date within 30 days.

Funding for the nicotine patches or gum is limited so it will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Uninsured individuals can call the “I Can Quit” Program at 1-800-480-QUIT (7848) for help in stopping smoking. Assistance is free and confidential.