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Hotline helping Arkansans quit smoking might end

Hotline helping Arkansans quit smoking might end (KATV PHOTO)

A hotline dedicated to helping Arkansans quit smoking might come to an end, if lawmakers choose not to continue the state's stop smoking hotline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

The Arkansas Legislative Council voted earlier this month not to renew the state's contract

0"I think we've reached a tipping point in terms of reducing tobacco use in the state and taking away the quit line in my opinion would completely undermine that," said Dr. Gary Wheeler of the Arkansas Health Department.

The hotline would have ended Thursday, but it's remaining open for the next two months while it's being reviewed.

Being called into question is the cost: $1.6 million dollars a year for the package that includes the 24/7 hotline, an app and resources like nicotine patches for those who enroll.

"The cost is almost $500 dollars per quit, that seems like a lot of money, but compared to a lot of other treatments, it's not that expensive," said Dr. Nate Smith, Director of the Arkansas Health Department.

Officials at the Health Department say for every dollar spent on the hotline, the state saves $28 dollars in healthcare costs.

They also say the phone line has proven results.

"But with the tobacco quit line we know over 3,000 smokers who want to quit are successfully quitting each year," Smith said.

Data shows nearly 12,000 Arkansans registered to stop smoking last year through the hotline, with more than 3,000 successful at quitting after a 7 month follow up.

On July 18th Health Department officials will present their results to the Public Health Committee where they say they hope lawmakers change their minds.

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