Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Quitlines at a Crossroads

More U.S. smokers than ever are utilizing telephone quitlines to help them stop smoking. However, budget cuts are now limiting access to this critical service according to a report released today by the North American Quitline Consortium and other public health organizations.

"At a time when demand for quitlines is at a record level, it is more important than ever to support proven tobacco cessation efforts,” said Linda Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the North American Quitline Consortium (NAQC). "The investment of $2.19 per capita for quitlines, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is based on sound science and real-world experience. States that made the necessary investments have been able to provide cessation services to the growing number of smokers who want to quit. We commend the states that have committed the necessary funding to quitline services and encourage them to continue this practice."

The number of tobacco users calling quitlines—a telephone helpline where smokers can turn for trusted, reliable help when they want to quit—increased 116% between 2005 and 2009, according to the report. Despite this increase in demand, total funding for all U.S. quitlines decreased for the first time ever in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. Funding has been cut despite the fact that states will collect $25.1 billion in revenue this year from tobacco taxes and legal settlements with the tobacco industry, and more states have already enacted or are considering tobacco tax increases this year. These increases will motivate more smokers to try to quit and provide additional revenue that states can use to fund quitlines and other tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

David Zauche
Senior Program Officer
Partnership for Prevention


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