Patch work: State offers free smoking patches

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As the manager of Craig's Smoker Friendly store, JoDeena Bullock has seen her share of smokers try to quit.

She has a standard response for smokers who tell her they're buying their last pack.

"I tell them, 'I'll see you next week,'" she said.

More times than not, she's right. The smokers are back a few days later, telling her quitting proved too difficult.

Just a few days into 2006, Bullock said there have been a few customers who tried to quit as a New Year's resolution but already are back.

Bullock said quitting is tough, but using nicotine gum or the patch can help.

The biggest problem with the patch, she said, is the price.

At the Craig City Market pharmacy, a box of 14 patches costs $41.19.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is encouraging smokers to take advantage of a state program that gives free nicotine patches.

Colorado Quitnet, an Inter--net-based free service that provides advice on quitting, will mail smokers a free eight-week supply of nicotine patches if they sign up for the program's free telephone counseling sessions.

Considering the cost of patches and cigarettes, the program is a good way for people to quit, said Teresa Wright, tobacco prevention program coordinator for the Visiting Nurse Association.

"It is hard for them to continue their habit as well as pay for the patches," she said.

But according the Colorado Quitnet, the long-term financial costs of smoking are much greater than the short-term cost of patches. Someone who smokes 15 cigarettes a day spends more than $1,000 a year on the habit, according to Quitnet.

Since Quitnet began mailing out free patches a few weeks ago, it has been inundated with calls, Wright said.

If people can't get through Quitnet's toll-free number, 1-800-639-QUIT (7848), they can call Wright at 871-7639, she said.

Wright said she hopes some of the people who resolved to quit for the new year will take advantage of the program.

"Quitting is probably the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones," she said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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