Smokers and people who vape are more vulnerable to respiratory and lung illnesses. To encourage hospitalized patients to quit smoking or vaping when discharged from the hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway and the Institute for Prevention and Recovery are distributing quit smoking goody bags to hospitalized patients. The bags include nicotine gum, stress relief devices and, most important, access to the Quit Center, a free program that features a smoking cessation specialist offering an arsenal of tools to help them break the habit.

“Smoking and vaping weaken the immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight any disease,” said Kris Novak, Assistant Director, Tobacco & Nicotine Treatment Program at RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery.

Studies show that individuals are four times more likely to quit using tobacco and vaping products when participating in a structured program compared with quitting on their own.

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The Quit Center Program includes free nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges. Participants are paired with a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist working virtually to help them establish a realistic quit date, create an individualized quit plan and support them through the journey, which can include one-on-one or group counseling sessions.

“We want to send people home with the tools that will help them quit," said Dr. Carol Ash, RWJUH Rahway Chief Medical Officer and a pulmonologist. The Quit Center program is free and open to the community. It can be reached by calling 833 795-QUIT (7848) or rwjbh.org/nicotinerecovery.