Background: Telephone quitlines are a clinically proven and cost-effective population-wide tobacco-dependence treatment, and this option is now available in all 50 states. Yet, only 1% of the smoking population accesses these services annually. This report describes a series of policy, programmatic, and communication initiatives recently implemented in Wisconsin that resulted in a dramatic increase in consumer demand for the Wisconsin Tobacco Quitline (WTQL).
Intervention: In 2007, the Wisconsin legislature voted to increase the state cigarette excise tax rate by $1.00, from $0.77/pack to $1.77/pack effective January 1, 2008. In preparation for the tax increase, the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, which manages the WTQL, and the state's quitline service provider, Free & Clear, Inc., collaborated to enhance quitline knowledge, availability, and services with the goal of increasing consumer demand for services. The enhancements included for the first time, a free 2-week supply of over-the-counter nicotine replacement medication for tobacco users who agreed to receive multi-session quitline counseling. A successful statewide earned media campaign intensified the impact of these activities, which were timed to coincide with temporal smoking-cessation behavioral patterns (i.e., New Year's resolutions).
Results: As a result, the WTQL fielded a record 27,000 calls during the first 3 months of 2008, reaching nearly 3% of adult Wisconsin smokers.
Conclusions: This experience demonstrates that consumer demand for quitline services can be markedly enhanced through policy and communication initiatives to increase the population reach of this evidence-based treatment.
Published by Elsevier Inc.