Sacramento County Residents Can Get Free Nicotine Patches

Division of Public Health
Glennah Trochet, M.D.
County Health Officer

8/30/2011 10:00 PM

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While supplies last, callers to 1-800-NO-BUTTS can receive a two-week starter kit 
SACRAMENTO –   Quitting smoking just got a little easier.

For a limited time, Sacramento County smokers may receive free nicotine patches by calling the California Smokers’ Helpline I at 1-800-NO-BUTTS (English) or 1-800-45-NO-FUME (Spanish). 

Eligible tobacco users who call the helpline and  enroll in the free, telephone-based quitting program will receive a two-week starter kit of patches. There is no income requirement, and callers will be screened over the phone to determine if they have medical or other issues that would prevent the use of the patch.

The patches are an FDA-approved treatment proven to help smokers kick the habit. They release nicotine into the bloodstream through the skin, reducing withdrawal symptoms and slowly weaning smokers off nicotine. Patches will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Studies indicate that people who use both counseling and nicotine replacement therapy, like a patch, have a better chance of quitting for good,” said County Health Officer Glennah Trochet, MD. “This is a great opportunity for people who want to quit smoking and could use a little support.”

Sacramento County was one of five counties in California to initially pilot this project. The Sacramento County Public Health-Tobacco Education Program partnered with the UC Davis Health System, which has been distributing nicotine patch vouchers through outpatient clinics, inpatient services, and emergency services since February 2011. UC Davis also partnered with the Sacramento County Primary Care Center, Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center, CARES Clinic, Sacramento Native American Health Center, and Willow Free Clinic to distribute vouches for free nicotine patches.

Later the program was expanded all California counties where at least 14 percent of adults smoke. Sacramento County has a smoking prevalence rate of 14 percent, and has the highest urban county smoking prevalence rate in California. In comparison, the 2010 statewide adult smoking rate was 11.9 percent.

“When I’ve seen smokers in the clinic, offering free nicotine medication has helped stimulate their interest in quitting,” said Elisa Tong, MD, assistant professor of medicine at UC Davis, who helped lead the pilot program for Sacramento County.  “This program has also boosted physician’s awareness of the California Smokers’ Helpline.”

The Smoker’s Helpline is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Specialized services are available for pregnant women, teens, and tobacco chewers.

The new program is part of a nationwide effort called Communities Putting Prevention to Work, which aims to improve health and lower medical costs by preventing disease, such as those caused by tobacco use. 

For information on local smoke-free resources call the Tobacco Resource and Information Line at (916) 660-5825 or visit