The New York State Quitline is marking two years of its texting option. The Quitline itself has been around for 24 years. Since then, it has seen 1 million people quit smoking and the help available is free.

The texting Quitline is a learn-as-you-go skill-building treatment. The first step is asking for help and then committing to receiving it. That might be the toughest part.

Chris Webster has his free starter pack from the New York State Quitline.

Everyone gets one as step one.

“It almost seemed like I called, and I had it within the next day,” Webster said. “You know, it's like they know when you're ready, you're ready and they're going to help you, and they're going to do everything they can.”

That would include creating a support system. It's something Webster says is vital to success. He’s tried quitting before and has moved his quit date for this next attempt over and over.

“Triggers what I want to call them,” Webster said. “And having a dear loved one that's dying.”

That’s the number one reason why he’s fighting to put down cigarettes.

“The particular form of cancer that my mother has is lung,” Webster explained. “Okay, which metastasized, went into the it was into the brain.”

His mom, and his grandmother, who died from lung cancer, were both smokers.

“I'm looking for any tool right now,” Webster said.” There's no magic pill.”

But there’s the enchantment of the Quitline.

“It's sort of learn as you go,” Dr. Andrew Hyland of the NYS Quitline said. “There are messages that come out to individuals over a six-week period and it helps prepare people for those times when maybe it might be a little tough, there might be cravings.”

Dr. Andrew Hyland is the director of the NYS Quitline at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He says they see about 50 to 100 people join the texting Quitline a week.

“The text messaging program is automated, but it's got that sort of personal oversight to it,” Hyland said. “So for those individuals, again, maybe it is the anonymity of the process. If that works, terrific.”

Hyland says it’s all about support. He adds there’s no shame in trying and failing. It happens, a lot.

“It’s not like 100% you go, you put the patch on and you're all done and you're cured,” Hyland said. “It's not like that. There's a lot of hard work along the way, but that's the whole point of the services.”

Webster says he wants people to know it’s OK to struggle. Quitting is hard. He’s looking forward to a day when he doesn’t need to light up.

“The smoking's got to, I have to stop smoking,” Webster said. “I’m going to wind up, you know, somewhere where I don't want to be.”


For more information on the New York State Quitline, click here.