Helping tobacco users quit

Tori Howell never thought she could give up cigarettes.

She had quit several times before, but it never lasted long. When she heard about a free service of the Alabama Department of Public Health offering counseling and medication to help her quit, she was ready to try again.

Six month later, the 50-year-old Fairhope resident is glad she did. She’s grateful for the help she received from, Alabama’s online site to help those who want to quit tobacco use.

Since the service began a year ago, more than 1600 Alabamians have registered for its free services, including master’s level counseling, a personalized quit plan, and four weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy patches for those who are enrolled in the program and are medically eligible.

Howell said she was thankful for the online help. “I tell everyone about it,” she said. “Knowing that someone was checking on me helped. It’s the best thing I’ve done. I’m never going to smoke again.” is funded through the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) with a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The health department also offers a phone-based service that provides the same free program to users who prefer to talk to a counselor for help to quit. Callers may dial 1-800-784-8669 and sign up for phone services.

“Alabama has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation,” said Jim McVay, director of the Bureau of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease. “More than one in five Alabama adults use tobacco.

“Through free Internet and telephone services, no one has to leave home or pay for medication to help them quit,” he said. “Plus, you are twice as likely to quit for good if you have help.”

Counselors are available via the Internet or by phone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Messages left after hours will be returned the next business day. A Spanish-speaking counselor is available, and other languages are available through a telephone-based translator program.

For more information about or the Alabama Tobacco Quitline, call Julie Hare at (334) 206-3830.