DHEC offers free resources to quit tobacco in new year

SENECA — The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is using the arrival of a new year to promote its free tobacco cessation resources.

DHEC said in a news release Thursday that the new year gives tobacco users in any stage of quitting “the perfect opportunity” to quit using tobacco. The DHEC-administered S.C. Tobacco Quitline is a free resource to help tobacco users “kick the habit for good.”

“It’s never too late to quit smoking or using tobacco, because it reduces risk of heart and lung disease, cancer and other illnesses,” DHEC’s Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control director Sharon Biggers said. “Research has shown it takes multiple attempts for smokers to quit for the long term, and DHEC has tools to help South Carolinians be successful.”

Quitline operates 24/7 and offers coaching over the phone, support via the web and text message, help for personalizing quit plans and a Quit Kit. Quitline provides nicotine replacement with patches, gum and lozenges to eligible callers. All services are free.

quitBiggers said the Quitline has provided treatment and counseling to about 100,000 tobacco users in South Carolina.

“Our agency is committed to promoting and protecting the health of all South Carolinians by helping tobacco users quit, preventing tobacco use and reducing the exposure to secondhand smoke,” Biggers added.

Enrolled callers who are uninsured, underinsured, on Medicare or Medicaid or under 18 are eligible for five free sessions with a quit coach. Pregnant and postpartum users qualify for 10 free sessions.

Out of the 110,000 calls that Quitline received over 10 years, 37 percent of callers had no health insurance, while 32 percent remained tobacco-free after seven months, the news release said. More than half of callers suffered from chronic conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, coronary artery disease and cancer.

Those interested can enroll online at by clicking on the “Health” tab. Quitline can be reached at 1-800-784-8669 or 1-885-335-3569 for services in Spanish.