Baltimore, MD ( January 28, 2011) - The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DHMH) Maryland Tobacco Quitline reports a noteworthy spike in call volume during December and January from smokers making a firm commitment to quit their addiction. From a little more than 900 calls during November 2010, Quitline callers surged to 1,320 in December and continued to climb in the New Year to 1,429 as of January 25.
"The Quitline gives Maryland smokers what they need to beat their tobacco addiction," says DHMH Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D. "Quitting isn't easy but we can help you keep that resolution on your way to a longer and healthier life."
The toll-free Quitline (1-800-QUIT NOW; 1-800-784-8669) will assist any Marylander who wants to quit tobacco with free, professional telephone-based counseling and support services, including the nicotine patch or gum. Phone counseling has been shown to double your chances of quitting. Results of the Maryland Tobacco Quitline evaluation reveal that Marylanders who used the Quitline were far more successful, with quit rates seven times higher than the average rates of non-assisted quits. Quitline callers overwhelmingly (98%) reported being satisfied with the services; one reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Maryland has the 6th lowest rate of tobacco use in the nation.
"Quitting tobacco is the most important thing a smoker can do to improve health and save money," said Frances Phillips, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. "With the Quitline, there is personalized help on the other end of the telephone as soon as you're ready."
"The Quitline has changed my life,' said former Maryland smoker Robin Mirabile, a 53 year-old who has been smoke-free since September 24, 2010. "I really needed to save money since I became unemployed. Smoking is expensive, but quitting can be too without insurance. I called the Quitline and they provided free nicotine replacement therapy gum to help me quit. I have wanted to try a medication, but it was so expensive and what if it did not work or I did not know what to get or how to use it correctly? The Quitline was able to help me through the process and supply the gum and I am finally quit!"
The Quitline provides free assistance by professional Quit Coaches[TM]. Callers enrolled in the Quitline's program work with a coach during a series of up to four telephone sessions. The coaches assist callers in developing and working through a quit plan based on their individual needs. While supplies last, callers are also eligible for FREE nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as the patch or gum, mailed directly to their home.
The Quitline program contracted with Pinnacle Communication Resource Company to air TV ads from December 17, 2010 through 1/16/11 on WJZ (CBS Baltimore), BET with Comcast Cable and Verizon, Comcast Cable on the Video-On-Demand service, WBFF (FOX 45), and WNUV (CW Baltimore).
The ads utilize Baltimore native TV and movie actress Nicole Ari Parker as a spokesperson. Parker is best known for her role in TV's Soul Food and has had roles in Remember the Titans, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, and many more. As someone who lost her grandmother to smoking-related cancer, Parker was an enthusiastic supporter of the Quitline campaign. The ads emphasize getting support by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW or visiting www.smokingstopshere.com. In the first three weeks of the campaign, the Quitline saw a 36% increase in Maryland residents who have called, with a 77% increase in the first week (12/17-12/23) alone. In conjunction with the TV media, the Quitline also ran a transit campaign with a New Year's Eve theme in Baltimore City through January 9. The ads were displayed on the sides and interior cards on city buses, as well as kiosks outside of Metro and Light Rail Stations.
A new study released by the American Lung Association, conducted by researchers at Penn State University, found that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits to states. The study, Smoking Cessation: the Economic Benefits, provides a nationwide cost-benefit analysis that compares the costs to society of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation coverage. The study showed that for every dollar spent on helping smokers quit in Maryland, the state would see a return of $1.34.
The Maryland Tobacco Quitline's hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week. Services are available in English, Spanish, and other languages.
For more information about the Quitline, please visit www.smokingstopshere.com.