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Cessation Programs > Quitlines
Evidence shows that smokers who use quitlines are 50% more likely to quit than smokers who try to quit without the help of a quitline.1
Last updated: November 03, 2011
Maryland Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
What are Quitlines?
Quitlines are telephone based support programs that provide quality and effective treatment for people who want to quit smoking. Quitlines are a convenient and helpful way to initiate the quitting process since they are accessible from anywhere smokers may be, as long as they have access to a telephone. Experienced and highly trained personnel will guide the smoker through the steps to successfully quit smoking.
Two Forms of Telephone-based Counseling Services:
- Reactive – the consumer initiates all of the calls.
- Proactive – the counselor calls the consumer and counseling is provided in a similar fashion to clinics (i.e., scheduled sessions).
- Tobacco cessation Quitlines are often a mixture of the two.
Advantages of Quitlines:
- They are FREE!
- Easy to access from the comfort of home with no need to travel to receive services.
- Provide confidentiality which is great for individuals who may feel uncomfortable in group therapy.
- Most importantly, quitlines are effective.
How effective are Quitlines?
In general, only about 7% of smokers remain abstinent (smoke-free) one year after quitting smoking on their own. The one-year abstinence rate associated with the use of Quitlines dramatically increases to around 30%.2 In a study of New York and California quitlines, evidence suggested that 50% of quitline callers would have not quit without the quitline.1
What the evidence says:
- Comparing quitlines to other cessation methods (several studies reviewed for the 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines update):
- Compared to no intervention and/or self-help, “when smokers receive proactive telephone counseling, they are more than one and one-half times more likely to remain abstinent than if they had received minimal or no counseling or self-help” (p. 28).3
- Compared to medication, “the addition of quitline counseling to medication significantly improve the abstinence rates compared to receiving medication alone” (p. 92).3
- 23.2 % of smokers remained abstinent after a medication treatment alone compared with 28.1 % of smokers who received medication and quitline counseling.3
- Engagement matters:
- A recent review found that three or more calls to a Quitline increased the odds of a smoker making a successful quit attempt compared to other, minimal interventions (such as self-help) or pharmacotherapy alone.3
- A recent study done by the Oregon research institute compared the effectiveness of quitlines by comparing the number of calls (one call vs. multiple calls) and calls vs. written materials. They found that individual who use quitlines proactively remain abstinent more often than individuals who only received one call or written material.4
- Quitlines & Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):
- When free nicotine replacement therapy was included in quitlines services, most states doubled in quitline use rates.4
- After reviewing several studies on the most effective methods for tobacco cessation, Lichtenstein and colleagues (2010), noted that NRT studies are often conducted under highly-controlled conditions, while quitline studies often examine real-world consumers and quitline conditions. Thus, the relatively high effectiveness of quitlines in comparison and combination with NRT is especially impressive.4
Maryland Quitline Counseling
Maryland Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
In operation since June 2006
FREE services provided by the Maryland Quitline
What will Maryland Quitline callers experience?
Four sessions are provided to a typical smoker, consisting of the following:
First call: During this call, a certified Quit Coach®, often a previous smoker, will assess tobacco use history, previous quit attempts, and help develop a plan that will work for each individual. During this call the quit coach will helps the smoker determine if they can benefit from medication such Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
Second call: Quit Coach® calls the individual to provide support on the quit date and provides tips to be successful during his/her first day of abstinence. This follow up call usually lasts 10-15 min.
Third call: Takes place about a week after the quit date and it usually consists of tips and support and to help the individual stay on track.
Fourth call: Takes place 2 to 4 weeks after quit date, typically the last call consists of an encouragement call to help the individual stay quit and set up a long term plan and stay tobacco free for life. Individuals are welcome to call the Quitline for additional help and support if necessary.
- Abrams, D. B., Graham, A. L., Levy, D. T., Mabry, P. L., & Orleans, C. T. (2010). Boosting population quits through evidence-based cessation treatment and policy. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38(3, Suppl), S351-S363. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.12.011
- Fiore, M. C., Jaen, C. R., & Baker, T. B. (2008). A clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update a U.S. public health service report. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(2), 158-176. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.04.009
- Lichtenstein, E., Glasgow, R. E., Lando, H. A., & Ossip-Klein, D. J. (1996). Telephone counseling for smoking cessation: Rationales and meta-analytic review of evidence. Health Education Research, 11(2), 243-257. doi: 10.1093/her/11.2.243
- Lichtenstein, E., Zhu, S. H., & Tedeschi, G. J. (2010). Smoking cessation quitlines: An underrecognized intervention success story. American Psychologist, 65(4), 252-261. doi: 10.1037/a0018598