Tax increase encourages smokers to kick the habit

By: Kiley Yarbrough
By: Kiley Yarbrough

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Three weeks after a federal cigarette tax increase went into effect, there are clear signs smokers are reaching out for help to quit.

The Tennessee Department of Health does not keep daily numbers on calls to it's "quit line", but workers do say the day before the tax went into effect, their calls more than quadrupled!

One 36-year-old who says he is ashamed to even reveal his identity as a smoker has already tried once to quit.

"Stopping on your own, I tried that one time and it never worked."

Now this smoker who lights up about one pack per week is on prescription medication.

"The Chantix medication actually blocks the effect of nicotine on the brain," said Dr. Jonathan Dee.

"I found that after I took it for the first week, you no longer craved a cigarette, in fact it almost tasted nasty."

Even though these medications are designed to help you quit, Dr. Dee says it's the patients determination to kick the habit that actually makes them most successful.

"For the most part, unless people put themselves through some suffering first to show themselves they are willing to quit, it's not going to work.

"It makes me nauseous, but I know that it works, so I am willing to deal with a little bit of nausea.""

And a pain in the pocketbook. The prescription medications can cost up to $180 per month. And insurance companies cover very little.

"I would say it's pretty close to zero," said Dr. Dee.

And even though the price tag may cloud your vision of what's best for you, Dr. Dee says it will pay off.

"If you calculate up how much a person spends on a pack of cigarettes a day for one month it's somewhere near $150, so generally it's worth it financially."

And doctors say after three to four months, 50-70% of patients have put the cigarettes out for good.

"I just set them down and never lit them up again."

There is free help available through the Tennessee Tobacco Quit Line.
Just call 1-800-quit-now. That's 1-800-784-8669. That program provides a tobacco quit kit and free one on one counseling. Local hospitals including Parkwest also offer smoking cessation classes. The next course begins in July. Call 373-1734 for more information.
The course does cost $50 but that is refunded if you complete all 8 classes.


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  • by Anonymous on Apr 24, 2009 at 02:18 PM
    I smoked for many years and the only way to quit is to want to quit. I had a beutiful child and decided I wanted to see her grow up so I quit cold turkey. It wasn't easy and I started to chew sunflower seeds. Then I had to quit my sunflower seed addiction. The sunflower seed addiction was easier to quit than smoking.
  • by nerdovision Location: US on Apr 24, 2009 at 10:43 AM
    The addiction to smoking is one of the worst addictions I think anyone could have and my hat is off to everyone who has quit! For the people who still smoke and want to quit there is a new device called an electronic cigarette that may help you to taper down and quit much like the nicotine patch system that is just brilliant! If you are interested in them or want more information about the product you can go to www.invisismoke.com
  • by James Location: Plainfield IN on Apr 24, 2009 at 06:48 AM
    This article fails to mention that Chantix has serious problems with side effects. When used as directed, patients have a 50/50 shot of having these severe psychotic side effects. That means that patients might be okay...or they might want to claw their faces off, literally. Dr Dee needs to be honest, and at least mention this medication's problems as well as it's benefits. Dr. Dee should also be commended for his work in helping smokers quit.
  • by darla Location: morristown on Apr 23, 2009 at 10:27 PM
    Yuck, I hate Those things my hubby smoked for years he gave them up about 4 years ago, if he can do it anyone can. I think your an Idiot if you keep on smoking!
  • by Otis Location: Knoxville on Apr 23, 2009 at 09:55 PM
    The tax was a huge reason for me to stop. I don't want anymore tax money to be used to provide "anything" to the welfare leaches than necessary.
  • by Preston Location: Knoxville on Apr 23, 2009 at 06:57 PM
    What's really going to happen when enough people quit smoking and all the tobacco farmers are out of jobs? I see another bail out in the future...
  • by Buford Location: Knoxville on Apr 23, 2009 at 05:47 PM
    Ole Buford is one of those who laid them down for good when the taxes started rising. Twenty-one months and counting. It is sort of like losing a good friend. You just pick up and go on without them.

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