Changes in Tobacco Quitlines in the United States, 2006-2006

This article examines changes in tobacco quitlines between 2005 and 2006. Tobacco quitlines have been shown to be an effective, lower-cost method to help smokers quit. Quitlines are more effective than self-help materials, single-session counseling, or other minimal interventions.

The authors analyzed data from the North American Quitline Consortium in 2005 and 2006, which surveys state and provincial quitlines. The response rate in both 2005 and 2006 was 100 percent. Authors also analyzed the per capita cost of quitlines using United States census data and examined the reach of quitlines and cost per smoker using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Key Findings:

  • All 50 states and two territories had quitlines by 2006, a significant increase from 38 states with quitlines in 2004.
  • Quitlines reported an increase in budgets between 2005 and 2006. Much of this increase appeared to be linked to the number of quitlines offering free cessation medication. Almost half of quitlines (46%) now offer some form of free cessation medication.
  • The number of smokers reached by quitlines increased modestly, but statistically significantly from 0.9 percent of all smokers in 2005 to 1.0 percnet of all smokers in 2006. This falls short of the goal of 8 percent of all smokers established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Nearly all quitlines provided counseling and resources in English and Spanish, but few provided counseling in any other language.

The reach, budget and number of quitlines have increased between 2005 and 2006. While quitlines are an effective means to help smokers quit, they must continue to increase their reach to reach goals set by the CDC.