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Increasing reach of quitline services in a US state with comprehensive tobacco treatment
  1. Susan Swartz Woods1,
  2. Amy E Haskins2
  1. 1
    Maine Medical Center, 22 Bramhall Street, Portland, ME 04102, USA
  2. 2
    Center for Tobacco Independence, Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME, USA
  1. Susan Swartz Woods, Portland VA Medical Center, 3710 SW US Veteran Hospital Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA; woodssus{at}


Objective: The population reach of tobacco quitlines is an important measure of treatment seeking and penetration of services. Maine offers an opportunity to examine temporal changes in quitline reach and referral sources in the context of a comprehensive tobacco treatment programme. The impact of a $1.00 cigarette tax increase is also examined.

Methods: This is a descriptive analysis of Maine Tobacco Helpline call volume September 2001 to December 2006. Annual reach was estimated using a cross sectional state surveillance survey. Weekly call volume was examined during 2005, a year of marked changes in tobacco taxes and quitline resources. Referral patterns were analysed yearly.

Results: Maine’s Tobacco Helpline observed more than a threefold increase in population reach during a four year interval, from 1.9% to over 6% per year. Calls increased substantially in 2005, concurrent with added hours of operation and a rise in the cigarette tax. Over time, callers increasingly reported hearing about the quitline from health professionals, from 10% in 2001 to 38% in 2006.

Conclusions: Tobacco treatment programmes offering free nicotine therapy and professional medical education can drive quitline utilisation over time. Call volume can also be affected by quitline operational and policy changes that promote the reduction of tobacco use.

  • tobacco
  • smoking
  • quitline
  • counselling
  • nicotine
  • medical education

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: The Maine Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services, supports the delivery and evaluation of the state’s Tobacco Treatment Initiative.

  • Abbreviations:
    Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey
    Master Settlement Agreement
    nicotine replacement therapy
    Partnership for A Tobacco-Free Maine