SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- If you're trying to quit smoking, you want every possible tool to help you kick the habit. One resource available to Iowans, though, could become a victim of state budget cuts.
1-800-QUIT-NOW -- the Iowa Quitline -- has provided services and counseling since 2001, for those trying to shake their tobacco habit.
"Research shows that when people call quitlines -- telephone-based quitlines -- they're twice as likely to quit smoking," said Iowa Dept. of Public Health executive officer Aaron Swanson.
The Iowa Department of Public Health's Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, which operates Quitline, says between 2000 and 2008, youth smoking dropped from 32- to 20%. The department says smoking among adults is down from about 23% in 2002 to 14% in 2008.
Health officials say much of the success is due to Quitline.
"Only about 3-5% of people who try to quit on their own are successful in doing so," Swanson said.
Compare that, Swanson says, with a 20% success rate for those who have used Quitline.
Some state lawmakers, though, say the program is too much money and they want to cut funding from the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control.
The division started fiscal year 2011 with a budget of $7.8 million. Earlier in January, $1.5 million was trimmed, and a bill that's already passed in the House could take away an additional $2.4 million. That would leave the division with a budget of $3.9 million, and much of that has already been spent for the year.
"In the long term, it's an important program, every dollar that you spend on smoking prevention is multiplied many times over in the dollars you save in Medicaid spending," said Republican State Rep. Chris Hall, of Sioux City.
The Department of Public Health says the state spends a billion dollars every year on expenses associated with smoking.
The size of the cuts at anti-smoking programs remains to be seen, but lawmakers say they hope to keep them around in some form.
"It's like anything else when you're doing business. When you get your budget cut, you go line by line and say, 'Let's just don't throw the whole baby out with the bath, but let's figure out where we need to prioritize within that program,'" said Republican State Senator Rick Bertrand, of Sioux City.
The "Just Eliminate Lies" campaign is another anti-smoking campaign that could be cut. Some legislators say JEL spending is out of control, on items like t-shirts and trips to anti-smoking conventions.
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