Why Smokers Know About Quitlines, But Don’t Call
Smoking quitlines are telephone-based services that provide support and advice for people trying to kick the habit. In combination with the care provided by an addiction specialist or other qualified health professionals, use of one of these services can significantly increase the chances that a current cigarette user will successfully stop smoking. In a study published in May 2014 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, researchers from three U.S. institutions used information from a project called the National Adult Tobacco Survey to estimate how many U.S. smokers know that smoking quitlines exist.
In the majority of cases, adult and teenage users of cigarettes in the U.S. and throughout the world are addicted to nicotine. Nicotine addiction is common among smokers, in part, because of the need to use the drug repeatedly in order to keep feeling its desired effects on the brain’s pleasure levels. Once a nicotine addiction is established, frequently repeated brain exposure to the drug also helps account for the difficulties that commonly appear during smoking cessation attempts. In fact, even people who eventually quit smoking typically fail to break their reliance on cigarettes/nicotine at least once.
Addiction specialists and public health officials know that the odds of achieving smoking cessation success go up sharply for people who seek professional help and use one of the proven methods for quitting smoking. These methods include nicotine replacement therapy, the use of either of two nicotine-free medications called buproprion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix), and the use of any of several forms of behavioral therapy or counseling.
Some people aren’t sure exactly where to turn when they make the decision to stop smoking. Others may lack some or all of the resources needed to secure help from a doctor or involvement in a smoking cessation program. Smoking quitlines are publicly available options that provide smoking cessation-related information and advice to anyone interested in pursuing smoking cessation, regardless of considerations such as place of residence or level of income. All 50 states in the U.S. have such quitlines established, the National Cancer Institute’s Smokefree.gov reports. In addition, some quitlines operate nationally. As a rule, state and national quitlines employ counselors specifically trained to give advice remotely and direct callers to appropriate sources of support in their local areas.
How Many Smokers Know About Quitlines?
The National Adult Tobacco Survey (NATS) is a nationwide project that tracks tobacco use rates, and also tracks the underlying factors that make it more or less likely that any given person will start smoking or continue to smoke after initiating cigarette use. In the study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and UC San Diego used data from the most recent version of NATS (conducted in 2009 and 2010) to estimate how many smokers in the U.S. know that smoking quitlines exist. The researchers also used the NATS data to identify the demographic factors (racial/ethnic background, gender, socioeconomic standing, etc.) that make it more or less likely that any particular smoker will know about quitlines. In addition to checking awareness levels among current smokers, they checked awareness levels among people who used to smoke and people who had never smoked.
The researchers concluded that more than half (53.9 percent) of current smokers know that smoking quitlines exist. In addition, 34 percent of ex-smokers and 27 percent of people with no history of smoking know about quitlines. Among active smokers who try to quit, the groups most likely to know that smoking quitlines exist are women, people who have recently visited a doctor and people who live in states that devote considerable amounts of money to anti-smoking efforts. Conversely, the groups of active smokers interested in quitting who are least likely to know that smoking quitlines exist include people who make less than $50,000 a year, African Americans and other people of non-Hispanic/Latino descent.
Who Is Most Likely To Use A Smoking Quitline?
Despite the respectable level of awareness of smoking quitlines among active smokers, the authors of the study found that only 7.8 percent of active smokers who attempt to stop using cigarettes call a quitline. The groups of active smokers most likely to utilize a quitline are people who receive advice from a doctor, people who live in states with well-funded anti-smoking programs and African Americans and other people of non-Hispanic/Latino descent. Older adults form the single group of active smokers least likely to contact a smoking quitline. The study’s authors note that awareness of smoking quitlines among active smokers varies widely from state to state.
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