Wringing Every Possible Quit Out of Tobacco Policy Change

Field of Work: Smoking cessation help via quit lines

Problem Synopsis: Individually tailored evidence-based counseling and medications delivered via telephone quitlines have been proven effective in helping smokers quit, according to Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, the U.S. Public Health Service's clinical guideline. However, smokers are often unaware of these effective no-cost quitline services—especially smokers in those low-income and racial/ethnic populations where tobacco use is highest.

Synopsis of the Work: From 2006 to 2010, the North American Quitline Consortium, Oakland, Calif., worked to maximize the number of smokers who quit as a result of changes in state and local tobacco-control policies known to boost quit attempts, as well as from the promotion of 1-800-QUIT-NOW. A second important goal was to ensure the financial sustainability of quitlines.

Quitlines—which provide telephone counseling sessions, medications and information to help smokers quit—exist in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. In 2004, the federal government created 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a national number that automatically routes callers to the quitline in their state.

Key Results

The consortium created a comprehensive plan for integrating managers and directors of quitlines into efforts to promote 1-800-QUIT-NOW, and expanded outreach to tobacco-control advocates to ensure that quitlines receive advanced notice of such promotions.

Staff identified states with imminent state or municipal tobacco-related policy changes; provided technical assistance to those states on integrating quitlines into the launch of those changes; and distributed materials to maximize the number of people who call quitlines and quit smoking as a result. In addition, staff created online resources to help quitline managers promote the value of their smoking-cessation services to the public, news media, health care payers, and state/local tobacco-control leaders and policymakers.