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Smokers with health insurance now get less help from Wisconsin's Tobacco Quit Line

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Smokers with health insurance will get less help from Wisconsin's Tobacco Quit Line starting today.

And that's just one of the reductions being made in the state's stop-smoking programs.

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Their funding was cut 55 percent for the next two years, even though the state cigarette tax went up by another 75 cents a pack last month.

The anti-smoking efforts will get almost $7 million instead of $15 million, to help cover the state's overall budget deficit.

Uninsured smokers and those on Medicaid will still get the same number of follow-up counseling calls and nicotine patches from the state's Quit Line.

But those with insurance will only get one follow-up call instead of four.

Health officials say the insured will still be helped but they'll have to make the follow-up calls instead of help-line personnel.

Also, the budget calls for fewer anti-smoking ads, less training for smoking cessation workers, and less funding to get minorities to kick the habit.

Maureen Busalacchi of Smoke-Free Wisconsin says the funds are being cut at a time when smokers need them most, especially those motivated to quit by the tax hikes, and the statewide public indoor smoking ban that begins next July.

Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, has a bill to restore $2 million in stop-smoking funds, by rolling back a recent increase in what tobacco sellers get to collect the cigarette tax.

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