Telephone Quitlines: Do They Help Smokers To Quit?

It may not always be easy to find someone who seriously wants to stop smoking at the same time as you and who is prepared to do it together with you. What other kinds of support are available? Perhaps the most accessible form of support available in the United States is that provided by telephone quitlines. Many states have their own dedicated service but there is also a single national number that will route the call to your local service. The number for the national quitline is: 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669). Quitlines often have an initial screening service which identifies whether you just want simple information which can be mailed to you, or whether you would like to speak to a trained person who may be able to provide expert advice and support over the phone. Quitline counselors have been trained in how to help people who want to stop smoking. Many offer a call-back service in which they will call you back to continue counseling and monitor progress at pre-arranged times (at no cost to you). Some also provide free nicotine patches by mail. These pro-active telephone counseling programs have been shown to increase quit rates compared with just a single call and information.

When you call, you may have to select from a range of options, and wait a little while as the options are read to you. In most services you should get through to a live counselor fairly quickly. Once the counselor has established that you are seeking help to quit smoking, they may initiate an assessment in order to help them provide the best advice. This may involve answering some simple questions about how much you smoke, previous quit attempts etc. The counselor may then try to help you select a “quit day” and to start preparing for it. They may arrange to call you back at an agreed time around your quit date, and at other times shortly after you have quit. The counselor will be knowledgeable about quit smoking methods and able to answer any questions you may have. Most smokers find these quitlines to be helpful, and research has demonstrated that they can increase your chances of quitting. As most quitlines are free, there’s nothing to lose by giving them a try. If you do, let me know how you get on and what you thought of the service.
The national number is: 1-800 QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
Best of luck.
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.