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I-901 popularizes resolutions to quit smoking

On occasion of Initiative 901’s smoking ban going into effect Dec. 8, the Kitsap County Health District launched a new Smoke-Free Places Information and Referral Line. In the beginning, the line was busy and Roberta Kowald, Youth & Smoke Free Public Policy coordinator, fielded six to seven complains and questions every day.

But even she was surprised at the number of business owners who called because their employees had decided to kick the habit now that they can’t smoke at work.

“What I didn’t expect was businesses calling us for quitting information,” Kowald said.

This trend caused by I-901 coincides with the annual season of resolutions to make for a lucrative time to rid oneself of the addiction.

“New Year’s a lot of people start thinking about quitting,” Kowald said.

Through the end of January, smokers within the 18-29 age bracket have a particularly tempting incentive. “Stick It To Kick It” is a state-run program that offers counseling and includes more than $300-worth of nicotine patches or gum free of charge to qualified individuals and without health insurance required. The state has a Tobacco Quit Line as well with information on this and other programs.

The majority of calls to the county’s referral line, which have now trickled down to silence, were not about quitting, though. The questions were about special scenarios and details of the policy that restricts smokers to 25 feet from all entrances and exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes of businesses and public places. There were few complaints of violations.

“It was mostly businesses wanting to comply but saying ‘how can I make this work?’” Kowald said.

Callers to the county’s Smoke-Free Places Information and Referral Line (360) 337-5244, have three options: Leave a message lodging a complaint or concern about an establishment violating the new law; listen to a question- and-answer recording about the law; or direct questions to Kowald.

The health district also advises that quitting smoking is a challenging endeavor that can take an average of eight attempts. But calling a quit line, such as the state’s (877) 270-STOP (in Spanish, (877) 2NO-FUME), increases chances of quitting by 20 percent.

Additional resources for quitting are available by calling Karen Boysen-Knapp, Tobacco Program cessation coordinator at the health district at (360) 337-5231 or by visiting the health district’s Health Promotion Web site (www.kitsapcountyhealth.com/community_health/health_promotion/hp_index.htm) or www.cancer.org or www.quitnet.com. Information about the “Stick It To Kick It” program, offering free supplies of gum and patches for a limited time to those who qualify, is available by calling the state’s quit line.

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