Efforts to give away free nicotine patches in Inyo and Mono County paid off this past summer, with Mono County showing the biggest relative increase (since last year) compared to all the rest of the counties in the state.
It all started last August when the California Smokers Helpline began offering two week’s worth of free nicotine patches. Inyo and Mono Counties were two of 34 counties with an adult smoking prevalence of 14 percent or higher and were selected to participate.
The two county health departments went into overdrive broadcasting the giveaway to smokers, letting people know that eligible callers would receive a two-week starter kit of nicotine patches, in addition to telephone counseling.
Mono County had the biggest relative increase, going from 2 callers to 62, an increase of 3,000 percent. Mono County was followed by Inyo County, which went from 7 to 94 calls, for a 1,243 percent increase. In Mono County, over half of callers were between the ages of 25-44 and a third were between 45-65. Fifteen percent of the callers lived in the unincorporated area of Mono County. Four callers used the Spanish language hotline. Nearly equal numbers of males and female smokers were served.
Overall, calls from the 34 counties that participated in the event increased 34 percent, compared to the same period a year earlier and in all, over 5,450 starter kits were distributed statewide.
“As the negative effects of tobacco use get personal and manifest with age, smokers want to quit,” said Mono and Inyo County Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson.
While it is too late to get free nicotine patches, it is not too late to call the California Smoker’s Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS for help to quit.