FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2016
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391
American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line now available
New option aims to address American Indian health disparities
The Department of Public and Health and Human Services (DPHHS), with National Jewish Health and input from local American Indian tobacco prevention programs and various Tribal public health officials across six states, has developed a new approach to help reduce tobacco use among American Indians.
The American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line Program, the first of its kind in the country, is modeled after the highly successful DPHHS Montana Tobacco Quit Line.
The American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line is available seven days a week, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 1-855-372-0037. People can enroll online at www.mtamericanindianquitline.com.
Governor Steve Bullock expects this new approach to produce positive results. “I am committed to improving access to affordable healthcare for all Montanans, and I’m equally committed to finding innovative solutions designed to make a positive impact in our Tribal communities,” he said. “I encourage those who could benefit from this new, exciting program to give the American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line a try.”
DPHHS Director Richard Opper said local Tribal tobacco prevention programs worked closely with Tobacco Quit Line coaches to develop a culturally appropriate intake and cessation message. The program offers customized coaching for Native American callers. “We worked closely with our American Indian partners on this new initiative and we’re excited that it’s now available,” he said.
Based on current statistical information, DPHHS Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program (MTUPP) Tribal Liaison Janet Sucha said a new approach was needed. The 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance report shows that more than 43% percent of American Indian (AI) adults in Montana were cigarette smokers. “Our numbers suggest a desire to quit, but AI callers to our Tobacco Quit Line have lower rates of engagement and utilization of existing Quit Line services,” Sucha said.
Sucha believes those who choose to participate and complete the program will have greater success in quitting commercial tobacco use.
Dana Kingfisher, Tobacco Program Coordinator at the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center concurs. “We have to understand the intent we place on tobacco,” she said. “Are we using it in a respectful or abusive way? Our communities are starting to understand the negative effects that commercial tobacco has on our people and are making steps to show them the right way. Living in a good way means that we respect the reciprocal relationship we have with tobacco, but sometimes we need more than education. The new American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line is another great way to reach out to our people who are struggling with addiction.”
The new program has a dedicated call line where clients will be put in touch with an American Indian cessation coach. They will be offered 10 coaching calls, eight weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy and given the option of reduced cost cessation medication.
Feedback is always welcome, and comments regarding this new program can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.