Don't Hang Up! Smokers Use Hotline for Cooling Off

From 1999 to 2002, researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health, under the direction of principal investigator Marianne Prout, MD, MPH, evaluated the utilization and effectiveness of the statewide telephone-based Massachusetts Smokers' Quitline.

Telephone quitlines provide information and support to smokers trying to quit and to family, friends and health care professionals concerned about smokers.

From April 2000 through January 2001, the investigators found 809 callers who were willing to participate in the study and enrolled 442 callers as volunteers. Enrollees included current smokers and individuals who quit within the two weeks before their call to the Quitline.

Key Findings

  • Less addicted smokers—those who smoked fewer that 10 cigarettes a day and had their first cigarette more than 15 minutes after awakening—were significantly more likely to attempt to quit smoking after a call to the Quitline than smokers who were more addicted.
  • Smokers who used two or more smoking cessation services (offered by the Quitline or elsewhere) made more attempts to stop smoking.
  • Smokers who used four or more smoking cessation services were more likely also to talk to a healthcare provider about their smoking and attempts to stop smoking.
  • Smokers who talked to a health care professional were more likely to use nicotine replacement therapy and/or counseling to stop smoking.
  • Smokers were more likely to attempt to stop smoking if they used medication only or a combination of talking to a health care provider, medication and/or counseling.
  • Smokers' confidence in their ability to stop smoking was inversely related to the number of attempts they had made to quit. Smokers who were confident or very confident of their ability to stop smoking had actually made fewer attempts to quit.