Old News Archive

Maine Tobacco Helpline Readies for Increase in Call Volume

January 14, 2010 - TRC - By Shannon Bishop

Maine health officials are expecting a surge in people trying to quit smoking over the next month. The Maine Tobacco HelpLine has one of the highest call volumes in the nation – about 8,000 callers per year -- and New Year’s Day begins the busiest time of the year. The HelpLine’s telephone treatment specialists expect to speak with 50% to 100% more callers in January than in an average month.

Quitting smoking is always one of the top resolutions that Mainers make over the New Year. However, anyone who has tried to quit smoking knows it is a tough battle and it does not always happen on the first try. For every smoker who successfully quits each year, thousands more make attempts but do not succeed.

“Many smokers reflect on their failed quit attempts and feel discouraged,” said David Spaulding, Program Manager of the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. But their experience is not uncommon. “It takes most people a number of attempts before they quit for good. In fact, it takes the typical smoker closer to eight attempts.”

The odds are more stacked against people if they do not seek help and support. Fortunately, the Maine Tobacco HelpLine has been proven to work for thousands of people across the state. Whether someone has been using tobacco for decades or just a few years, the chances for success go up dramatically with assistance from the HelpLine, and the Maine Tobacco HelpLine has been recognized as a “Top Performer” by the North American Quitline Consortium.

Personal coaching through the HelpLine has been proven to be three times more effective than an attempt to quit without support. In addition to coaching, the HelpLine provides a variety of services to help people quit, including nicotine replacement medication for qualifying individuals. On average, 30-40% of the people that take advantage of the HelpLine’s full program of counseling and medications will be successful.

“Most tobacco users in Maine would like to quit, but tobacco is a very powerful addiction,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC, “If someone has tried to quit before without success, we’re encouraging them to try again in 2010, and we want people to know that they don’t have to do this alone.”

Shannon Bishop, Community Partnership Specialist at the Piscataquis Public Health Council adds, “I had the opportunity to meet two people at the State House yesterday who shared stories with me about their efforts to quit. The Helpline provides people trying to quit with some strategies to make it “stick.”

The majority of HelpLine callers, about 90 percent, are tobacco users. However, advice and coaching are also available for people who want to help a friend or family member quit. Services are free and confidential.

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine is administered by the Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine, Maine CDC, Department of Health and Human Services.

The HelpLine’s toll-free number is 1-800-207-1230.

FMI : Shannon Bishop, Community Partnership Specialist,
Piscataquis Public Health Council @ 564-4184

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.