DHEC: Uninsured smokers can get nicotine therapy

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Thursday that uninsured smokers looking to quit can get nicotine replacement therapy through the agency's tobacco quitline.{}

      "Many people without health insurance delay using effective aids like nicotine gum or patches to help them quit smoking because they worry about the costs," said Sharon Biggers, director of the agency's tobacco prevention and control division.{}

      Biggers said that tobacco users who want to kick the habit in 2014 can call the{}S.C. Tobacco Quitline{}at{}1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The quitline is open from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

      "To overcome this barrier and increase the likelihood of a successful quit attempt, DHEC helps the uninsured access nicotine replacement therapies at no cost to them through our tobacco quitline," Biggers said.

      Anyone who calls the hotline regardless of insurance status is guaranteed at least one free session with a DHEC quit coach and referrals to local quitting resources.

      DHEC officials said many callers will be eligible for up to five sessions, and pregnant users can get up to 10 free sessions.{}Free nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum, lozenges or patches, is available for callers who do not have health insurance, DHEC said.{}

      DHEC estimates 759,000 South Carolinians smoke cigarettes.{}

      For more information, visit{}