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Release: Nov. 19, 2002

NOTE TO EDITORS: Local tobacco control advocates will be available on Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the offices of the UI-based Iowa Tobacco Research Center, located on the 8th floor of the Jefferson Building in downtown Iowa City. David Bullwinkle, program coordinator with the Iowa Tobacco Research Center, will provide information about Quitline Iowa, a toll-free, statewide hotline for smoking cessation; Stephani Castillo, tobacco project coordinator for the Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse (MECCA), will discuss the availability of local resources for discounted nicotine replacement therapies; and Barbra Kamer, constituent relations manager for the American Cancer Society, will provide information about Great American Smokeout events.

Local groups mark Great American Smokeout with tobacco control resources

As part of the 26th annual Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 21, a coalition of Johnson County tobacco control advocates is highlighting the availability of local resources for those interested in quitting the nicotine habit.

The Iowa Tobacco Research Center, based in the University of Iowa Department of Community and Behavioral Health, the Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse (MECCA), and the American Cancer Society are among the local groups cooperating to observe the Great American Smokeout.

Local cessation resources available include a pilot program that provides discounted nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as the nicotine patch or gum, for tobacco users who want to quit. Funded by an Iowa Department of Public Health tobacco control grant, the program is available to smokers in Johnson, Cedar, Iowa and Washington counties.

"Resources such as these provide important motivation and support for those interested in quitting their nicotine habit," noted Stephani Castillo, tobacco project coordinator for the Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse (MECCA).

Another service for people wishing to stop smoking is the Iowa Tobacco Research Center's Quitline Iowa, a toll-free, statewide hotline for smoking cessation. The hotline is available to all Iowans at 1-866-U-CAN-TRY (1-866-822-6879), or via the Web site at Research shows that telephone quitlines double the odds that a smoker will kick the habit for good, said David Bullwinkle, program coordinator of the Iowa Tobacco Research Center.

The Great American Smokeout, celebrated annually on the third Thursday in November, aims to highlight the dangers of tobacco use and the challenges of quitting. More smokers have kicked the habit during the Great American Smokeout than any other day of the year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Additional Smoking Cessation counselors/resources in the Iowa City area include:

-- UI Hospitals and Clinics Smoking Cessation Clinic, serves general public, call for fees, (319) 356-8396. Contacts: Jane Knipper, Nancy Lane-Gipson or Jane Greiner.

-- University Employee Health Clinic Cessation Services, serves UI employees, no charge, (319) 356-3631. Contact: Donna Nevins, Collett Mitchell and Cheryl Heery.

-- Health Iowa Cessation Services, serves UI students, no charge, (319) 335-8394. Contact: Katie Budke.

-- Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, serves veterans and their significant others, sliding scale, (319) 338-0581 ext.5447. Contact: Roy Burkes.

Iowa Tobacco Research Center, serves Iowa residents, (319) 384-4845. Contact: David Bullwinkle or