On Monday, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and County health officials teamed up with the Ralphs Grocery Company to launch an anti-smoking campaign. The effort includes the distribution of 30,000 two-week starter kits containing nicotine patches or gum — California’s largest ever free distribution of nicotine replacement materials.

The Santa Monica Ralphs had distributed between 20 and 25 kits by midday Tuesday, according to pharmacy technician Anthony Edwards.

The program is funded at no cost to taxpayers, said Aurelio Rojas, Ridley-Thomas’ communications director. Funding came out of the county’s settlement allotment from a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The L.A. Care Health Plan also contributed.

In a press release, Ridley-Thomas said the efforts of public cessation programs have made “remarkable strides” in reducing smoking rates in the county.

“But we also know that there is still a whole lot more work to be done that will require more innovation,” he said, pointing out the new effort’s public-private collaboration.

Any County resident of 18 years of ago or older is eligible to receive a free kit, provided he undergoes a preliminary screening and agrees to take a follow-up survey.

For more information on the distribution, visit http://laquits.org.

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