The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a national quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, in 2004, giving free access to every smoker in the United States. The toll-free number is a single access point to the national network of tobacco-cessation quitlines, routing callers to their appropriate state quitlines. State quitlines and other organizations have been encouraged to promote the toll-free number via a simple national wallet card or a card of their own design. Since 2005, some 4 million cards, costing $.13 each, have been distributed by various groups.
Clinicians, using the Ask, Advise, Refer model, can quickly help smokers quit. After asking if they smoke, the clinician advises the patient of the health risks of smoking and then hands them the card with useful information they can act on, including the 800 number. Professional associations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and groups such as dental hygienists, pharmacists, emergency physicians, diabetes educators and the Veteran’s Health Administration have created cards and conducted cessation campaigns using the cards.
The popular, low-key card conveys to smokers and providers that quitting smoking does not need to be complicated or overwhelming.
This article is part of a special issue on tobacco cessation in the March 2010 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.