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Minnesota Smokers Turning to QUITPLAN(R) Services After Cigarette Tax Hike
Date:4/23/2009

Use of free quit-smoking services triples following 62-cent increase on cigarettes

MINNEAPOLIS, April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The recent federal tax increase on cigarettes has a lot of Minnesotans trying to quit smoking. QUITPLAN Services, the free stop-smoking program provided by ClearWay Minnesota(SM), has seen user volumes spike following the increase. Congress increased the cigarette tax nationwide by 62 cents to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081223/AQTU043LOGO)

Since the new tax took effect on March 31, thousands of Minnesotans have contacted QUITPLAN Services for help. During the week of March 30 through April 5, 807 calls were made to QUITPLAN Services, an increase of 372 percent from the first week in March. In addition, 568 people registered on quitplan.com over the same time span, an increase of 207 percent from the first week in March. More people contacted QUITPLAN Services in the first week of April 2009 than did in the entire month of April 2008.

Studies in Minnesota and across the nation have found a direct relationship between cigarette price increases and quitting smoking. In 2005, a health impact fee increased the cost of a pack of cigarettes in Minnesota by 75 cents. At the time of the price increase, nearly 42 percent of Minnesota smokers thought about quitting, according to the 2007 Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey. In addition, more than one-fourth (26 percent) of current and former smokers (31 percent) report that they had made a quit attempt as a result of the fee increase. The more times a smoker attempts to quit, the more likely the chance of success.

"The research from Minnesota and other states clearly shows that price increases on tobacco products are effective at helping current smokers quit," said David Willoughby, Chief Executive Officer of ClearWay Minnesota. "We're happy that so many Minnesotans are accessing the free, professional help from QUITPLAN Services to help them successfully quit smoking, save money and improve their health."

With the cost of cigarettes increasing, Minnesotans can rely on ClearWay Minnesota's QUITPLAN Services for free counseling, support and access to nicotine patches, lozenges and gum to help them quit smoking. Minnesotans can find out about all the free help to quit smoking through QUITPLAN Services by visiting quitplan.com or calling 1-888-354-PLAN (7526).

QUITPLAN(R) Services for Minnesotans include:

  • The QUITPLAN(R) Helpline - The QUITPLAN Helpline, 1-888-354-PLAN, offers telephone counseling and free nicotine patches, lozenges or gum to eligible callers.
  • quitplan.com - The Web site offers free lifetime membership, helpful quitting tools and activities, and the chance to connect online with thousands of others who have chosen to quit tobacco.
  • QUITPLAN(R) Centers - QUITPLAN Centers provide in-person counseling in a healthcare setting, as well as access to nicotine patches, lozenges or gum.
  • Community-Tailored QUITPLAN(R) Centers - A combination of stop-smoking tools and culturally-tailored counseling for communities of color.
  • QUITPLAN(R) at Work - The QUITPLAN at Work program offers free on-site professional group counseling for eligible businesses with at least eight employees ready to stop smoking.

About ClearWay Minnesota(SM)

ClearWay Minnesota is an independent, non-profit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN(R) stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit clearwaymn.org.

                                            Contact:  Mike Sheldon
                                                      Communications Manager
                                                      ClearWay Minnesota
                                                      (952) 767-1425


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SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota
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