Beginning today, two weeks of free nicotine patches are available to adult Ohioans seeking to kick the habit.
The state's anti-tobacco foundation was to announce it is offering the patches and is expanding its smoking cessation counseling efforts beyond its telephone coaching service.
''When somebody uses patches in combination with coaching they are eight times more likely to quit than when they try to do it on their own, cold turkey,'' said Ken Slenkovich, director of cessation services for the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation.
The patches are available to those who call 1-800-QUIT-NOW and enroll in one of the foundation's cessation programs.
The foundation today said that in addition to the telephone counseling service its coaching programs now include five tobacco treatment centers, including one at the Cleveland Clinic. Online counseling will be available this spring.
''It's not just a quit line anyomore,'' Slenkovich said. ''The expansion of services gives folks options that might be better suited to their lifestyle.''
Uninsured Ohioans can receive coupons that will allow them to get an additional six weeks of patches for $30. That cost compares with the retail price of about $150, Slenkovich said.
The foundation also has teamed up with about 70 employers to offer workers up to eight weeks of free patches. Those employers include Summa Health System and Cuyahoga Falls city.
Nine insurers also are offering up to eight weeks of free patches.
Discounts are available to Ohioans not insured by one of participating companies.
The foundation -- funded with tobacco settlement money -- expects to spend about $1.6 million on the patches.
''We're projecting that somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 to 45,000 people may take advantage of this,'' Slenkovich said.
''We want to get Ohio's (smoking) rate down to at least the national average,'' he said.
About 22 percent of Ohioans age 18 or older smoke, he said. That compares with about 20 percent nationally.
Smoking rates are dropping. In 2002, about 26 percent of adult Ohioans smoked, Slenkovich said.