The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans who need help quitting smoking or using smokeless tobacco of a great incentive to enroll in Quitline Iowa before the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20. Any participant who enrolls could be eligible for eight weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy, including patches, gum or lozenges.

According to the American Cancer Society, the decision to quit using tobacco has nearly immediate results. Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within two to three months, your circulation improves and your lung function increases. After one year of living tobacco free, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.

Some “quit tips” offered by the American Cancer Society include taking a brisk walk instead of a smoke break, staying away from people and places that tempt you to smoke, and finding support through organizations or friends. IDPH offers this kind of support with Quitline Iowa.

Iowans can take advantage of the program benefits offered by Quitline Iowa by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The program gives participants access to a trained “quit coach” to help them achieve freedom from tobacco. The “quit coach” provides services including:

• Preparing participants for their quit date

• Helping develop an individualized quitting plan

• Providing tips and support to live in a smoke-free environment

• Offering advice and information on medications that may help with withdrawal symptoms

The Great American Smokeout grew out of an event in 1974, when the editor of a Minnesota newspaper organized the first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day.

Two years later, on Nov.  18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society® successfully encouraged almost one million smokers to quit for the day. That event marked the first of what would become an annual event across the nation in 1977.

Tobacco users can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.quitlineiowa.org today to enroll in the program and talk to a “quit coach.” Registration specialists and “quit coaches” are available 24 hours a day.