Objectives: To trial an intervention in a real-life setting to motivate low-income smokers to try to quit. The intervention under trial was the addition of subsidised nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to a standard population quitline service.
Design: Participants were low-income smokers, recruited “cold” via either a letter in the mail or a flyer inserted in a local newspaper. The intervention group received the usual service of multisession counselling from the quitline plus access to heavily subsidised NRT. A comparison group received the usual quitline service only. Participants were followed up at 3, 6, and 12 months. Trial participants were also compared with a sample of general callers to the quitline.
Results: The offer of subsidised NRT recruited more than twice as many low-income smokers than the offer of the cessation service alone (intervention group n = 1000; comparison group n = 377). 63% were first-time callers to the quitline. Intervention respondents showed higher levels of nicotine dependence than comparison group respondents. Comparisons of quitting data were confounded by the differences in the respondents at baseline. 73.5% of smokers in the intervention group tried to quit compared to 61.0% in the comparison group. Unadjusted quit rates were higher in the intervention group than in the comparison group at 3 months and 6 months but not at 12 months.
Conclusions: Disadvantaged smokers were easily engaged to call the quitline, particularly when offered subsidised NRT. Disadvantaged smokers using the quitline, with and without subsidised NRT, achieved cessation outcomes comparable to other studies of “mainstream” smokers.
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Competing interests: None.
Funding: This study was funded by the South Australian Government and the Australian Government.
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