Free Nicotine Patches Available to California Smokers

California Smokers’ Helpline offers effective strategy to kick the habit

Smokers who call the California Smokers’ Helpline can now get an additional tool to help them quit smoking: free nicotine patches.

Adult smokers in California, who are medically eligible, can receive a two-week supply of nicotine patches mailed directly to their homes at no cost. This limited-time offer is available through funding by the University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.

Patches reduce cravings for nicotine — the addictive chemical in tobacco — by delivering a low, steady dose of it through the skin.

“Patches are especially helpful to lessen common withdrawal symptoms, like feeling anxious or irritable,” according to Dr. Rina Edi, UC San Diego Family Medicine Physician. “Those symptoms can make the first two weeks after quitting the most difficult.”

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), like the patch, only helps with physical dependence on nicotine, but does not address the emotional and mental reliance on cigarettes.

In addition to free nicotine patches, the Helpline provides smokers with free counseling and a personalized quit plan.

“The folks at the Helpline really listened to me. I received the patches by mail. They told me I would have an occasional urge, but I could call the Helpline if I needed to,” said Andre Harrington, a 30-year smoker from Santa Monica. “That was a year ago, and I am still a non-smoker! If I can quit, anyone can quit.”

Cessation studies have shown that smokers who used NRT in combination with counseling had higher success rates of quitting and staying quit than if they used only one method.

The Helpline is hopeful patch supplies will last through the end of the year, but encourages people not to wait to take advantage of this special offer.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer free nicotine patches for smokers, especially during this time,” said Sharon Cummins, Project Director of the California Smokers’ Helpline. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important it is to practice healthy habits. Smoking is still the #1 cause of preventable disability, death, and disease in the U.S. Now is a great time to quit!”

The California Smokers’ Helpline has helped nearly 1 million Californians. The Helpline provides free quit smoking and vaping telephone counseling and online self-help materials in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The Helpline is funded by the California Department of Public Health, First 5 California, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.