Kick butts with cheap quit-smoking programs

cigaretteEach year millions of Americans make the resolution to quit smoking, but many struggle to quit long term. And when the clock struck midnight signaling 2010 had begun, this year was no exception.

There's good reason to want to quit. Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in America, with more than 400,000 Americans dying of tobacco-related disease each year, including heart disease, cancers, emphysema and stroke.

Experts and hopeful quitters agree cost is one reason it's hard to kick butts. "I can't afford to lay out $1,000 or more on a smoking cessation program," says Mike Lenhart, 45, a pack-a-day smoker.

Critics say smokers should add up the money they dish out and apply that to a stop-smoking program instead of spending it on cigs. But smokers say it's not that simple. "If I could quit long enough to save the money [spent on cigarettes] to pay for a stop-smoking program, I wouldn't need one. I'd be able to quit on my own," Lenhart says.

To help those like Lenhart kick butt, WalletPop complied this list of free -- or almost free -- programs designed to help stamp out smoking, and ensure revelers will stick to their smoke-free resolutions.

Ask your boss
According to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm, and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), around 40% of employers were offering smoking cessation as a health benefit in 2009.

Let your fingers do the walking
The American Cancer Society has many options for people looking to quit smoking. Smokers can call the toll-free number 1-800-227-2345 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for an operator to connect them to their local American Cancer Society office so they can have an in-person consultation or the operator will connect the smoker to their state's Quitline. Its Web site also has a ton of information on the benefits of quitting, support for family and friends, what to look for in a stop-smoking program, and many other helpful tips.

Track each puff
Tiffany Thompson finds tracking the number of cigs she smokes helps her stay on the path to being smoke-free. "Tracking cigarettes forces you to be mindful of what you're smoking, creates hopefulness you can quit and paints a realistic picture of how you're doing."

Thompson says tracking how much she spends on cigarettes helps, too. "I use software that helps me track that closely."

Become an ex
Another free option available to all smokers is the Becomeanex plan. There smokers of all backgrounds can benefit from a standard set of proven actions that can help increase their chances of breaking their addictions to tobacco. EX® is designed to help smokers "re-learn" life without cigarettes and takes an innovative approach to help the 46 million smoking Americans finally quit successfully.

Don't forget your doc
There are dozens of state and local programs that you might qualify for. Check with your doctor to learn about any programs you might be eligible for, or for information on discounts on prescriptions and stop-smoking aids. If you have health insurance, some treatments might be covered, too. "My insurance covered $200 of a stop-smoking program that included hypnosis," says Jennifer Jackson of Tampa, FL.

Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance journalist specializing in health, celebrity and consumer issues.
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