by Al Sacco

Uncle Sam Wants You! (To Quit Smoking) And He’s Giving Away BlackBerrys to Help

Feb 17, 2010
Data CenterMobileSmall and Medium Business

An anti-smoking group in Washington, D.C., is reportedly giving away brand new BlackBerry smartphones as part of a new "economic stimulus" plan meant to help smokers kick the habit.

Uncle Sam wants you (to quit smoking)!

And he’s apparently doling out piles of free BlackBerry smartphones to cigarette smokers in the Washington, D.C.-area in hopes that they’ll help kick that nasty habit.

joke image of the The BlackBerry Transdermal Patch
The BlackBerry Transdermal Patch

Details on the new program, which is being managed by the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking/tobacco group, according to CNN, are sparse at this point, but here’s what we know:

The initiative is apparently part of a stimulus program meant to create jobs and drum-up cash-flow in Washington D.C , area&.though I’m not exactly sure how that’ll work, since the program has only created a single job so far. It’s difficult to quantify the amount of cash that could be saved in healthcare and associated costs for each participant who quits, but the government’s hoping it translates into a significant amount.

And a reduction in smokers in the United States is clearly a good thing, from a purely-health-related perspective.

The American Legacy Foundation’s funding is related to a recent settlement between “Big Tobacco” and a number of U.S. states, according to CNN, and the exact figure is just under $1 million at $977,346.

The government will apparently single out qualified smokers in and around D.C., by tapping local telephone “quit-lines” for people who consistently rely on telephone support for help putting down the cigarettes.

Participants will get free BlackBerry smartphones, along with 24/7 quitting-support via text message and the ability to quickly communicate with other quitters for additional assistance. They’ll also have access to “options to help prevent relapse,” though it’s unclear what exactly that means.

And CNN says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were recently granted some $44 million expressly for this purpose, so the American Legacy Foundation’s not the only organization tackling the smoking problem in America head on.

I wasn’t able to find any specifics on which BlackBerry devices will be provided to program participants, or which carriers they’ll be available through. But smartphone recipients will presumably be responsible for monthly service bills…unless Uncle Sam is feeling REALLY generous ,that is…

Personally, I’m don’t understand why these smokers couldn’t just use their existing cell phones, assuming they have one, to access all of the same information they could via BlackBerry. But perhaps the promise of free smartphones will be enough to keep wannabe-quitters on the wagon?

I’m unsure how exactly this qualifies as “stimulus” program…and I can’t help but think this really just trading one addiction for another? But who am I to question Big Uncle Sammy, right?

Check out this video clip for additional detail.


CNN via

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