Impact of Canadian tobacco packaging policy on quitline reach and reach equity

Prev Med. 2015 Dec;81:243-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.09.010. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Objective: To examine the impact of the new Canadian tobacco package warning labels with a quitline toll-free phone number for seven provincial quitlines, focusing on treatment reach and reach equity in selected vulnerable groups.

Methods: A quasi-experimental design assessed changes in new incoming caller characteristics, treatment reach for selected vulnerable sub-populations and the extent to which this reach is equitable, before and after the introduction of the labels in June, 2012. Administrative call data on smokers were collected at intake. Pre- and post-label treatment reach and reach equity differences were analysed by comparing the natural logarithms of the reach and reach equity statistics.

Results: During the six months following the introduction of the new warning labels, 86.4% of incoming new callers indicated seeing the quitline number on the labels. Treatment reach for the six-month period significantly improved compared to the same six-month period the year before from .042% to .114% (p<.0001) and reach equity significantly improved for young males (p<.0001) and those with high school education or less (p=.004).

Conclusions: The introduction of the new tobacco warning labels with a quitline toll-free number in Canada was associated with an increase in treatment reach. The toll-free number on tobacco warning labels aided in reducing tobacco related inequalities, such as improved reach equity for young males and those with high school or less education.

Keywords: Quitlines; Special populations; Tobacco control; Tobacco packaging; Tobacco use; Utilisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Educational Status
  • Hotlines*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Product Labeling / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Young Adult