Objective: To examine usage rates of smoking-cessation assistance and to compare the success rate of those who used assistance with the success rate of those who did not.
Methods: The data come from the 1996 California Tobacco Survey, a random sample of 4480 individuals (18 years or older) who tried to quit smoking in the 12 months before the survey. We calculated population estimates for demographics, smoking histories, rate of using assistance, and abstinence rates.
Results: One fifth (19.9%) of those who attempted to quit smoking used one or more forms of assistance: self-help, counseling, and/or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Heavy smokers were more likely to use assistance than were light smokers. Women were more likely to use assistance than were men, and usage increased with age. Whites were more likely to use NRT than were other ethnic groups. Overall, those who used assistance had a higher success rate than those who did not; the 12-month abstinence rates were 15.2% and 7.0%, respectively.
Conclusions: Use of assistance for smoking cessation has increased over recent years, from 7.9% in 1986 to 19.9% in 1996. The use of assistance is associated with a greater success rate. Anti-tobacco campaigns in California and increased availability of multiple forms of assistance probably facilitated the use of assistance and successful quitting for those using assistance.