Overheard On Campus: Is there any way to get free nicotine patches?

Contributed by Lisa Salazar, M.P.H, A.C.E.-C.P.T., Beau Dooley, M.S., M.P.H., & Melissa Kelley, M.S., C.H.E.S.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles, B.A.

Wow! This kid knows where it’s at. I’ll admit when I was in college, I picked up smoking cigarettes. Soon after I graduated, though, I realized a couple of things:

  1. It was a dirty habit (so dirty that it hindered my ability to get a date – sooo not good), and
  2. Uhhh, I think smoking kills you.

I applaud this student for asking this question on MyStudentBody, and so do our experts …

Girl taking puff of cigarette

Lisa Salazar, director of the Wellness Center at Idaho State University, says …

This is a terrific question. To start, let’s look at some startling statistics regarding tobacco in the US: According to the Centers for Disease Control, 443,000 deaths are caused by smoking each year, 20% of adults are smokers, and 20% of high school students also smoke. In addition, tobacco use has been crowned as the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. All the more reason to ask your question, right? Exactly.

Because there’s the possibility that people from all over the country (and the internet) are reading this response, it’s not an easy question to answer. So let me give you a resource that can provide you with the individualized information you seek. Each state has a quit line established. The national quit line is 1 (877) 44U-QUIT. Many of the quit lines throughout the states are able to offer free tools including patches to help increase the likelihood of success with quitting. In addition, many student health centers offer free patches to help students quit smoking and begin making better long-term health choices.

Beau Dooley, associate director of Student Wellness and Outreach at James Madison University, recommends …

Treating your nicotine dependence is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health, and nicotine patches are one of many effective tools that can assist in your effort to quit using tobacco products.

Access to free nicotine replacement therapies (such as nicotine patches) varies by state and community. However, every state has a free tobacco quit line that’s staffed by counselors, and many of them offer free nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges to those who are eligible. Start your search by contacting the quit line in your state and find out if it offers free nicotine replacement products. If so, determine if you are eligible to receive them. Calling 1 (800) QUIT-NOW can help connect you with your state quit line and other local tobacco cessation resources. Other places to consider looking for free nicotine patches might be your local county health department, your university health center, and local free clinics or nonprofit agencies.

If cost is a barrier to accessing nicotine patches, not buying cigarettes or other tobacco products (depending on how much you use) might actually save you enough money to purchase nicotine patches without putting extra strain on your personal finances. Good luck in your attempt to quit using tobacco, and remember that nicotine patches work best when used in conjunction with other proven tobacco cessation methods.

Melissa Kelley, a health educator at University of Rochester, says …

First, congratulations on your choice to quit smoking! While the decision to quit may have been difficult, there are some great resources available to help you manage this major lifestyle change. In New York State, there is a program called the Smoker’s Quitline that does help provide free nicotine patches and gum, but it is limited to New York State residents. Here is the website: https://www.nysmokefree.com/register/default.aspx#.

If you live in another state, the best place to start would be to contact your local or state health department to inquire about tobacco cessation programs available to you. If you live on a college campus, a great place to start would be your health services office or a health promotion office, as I am sure they would have access to the resources that you need!  Good luck!

So, I hear there’s a quit line you can call? Check the quit lines out to get free stuff to help you quit using tobacco. Share this article with your friends by using the share bar, or write a comment in the section below. Click here for more Overheard On Campus posts.

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