Maine CDC Press Release

September 19, 2005

Tobacco Help Line Marks Four Successful Years

Contacts:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH Sue Swartz, MD
Maine Public Health Director Medical Director, Center for Tobacco Independence
Tel:  (207) 287-3207
TTY: (207) 287-4479

Augusta, Maine – The Maine Tobacco HelpLine (1-800-207-1230) marks its fourth year in operation this week, with one of the highest call volumes among tobacco help programs nationally. Demand for help to quit smoking has increased steadily since the toll-free line started in 2001. More than 24,000 smokers have received assistance from the Maine Tobacco HelpLine to date.

The current profile of Maine is that the number of people who are successfully quitting is on the increase, but more tobacco users could benefit from help quitting. Total consumption of cigarettes in Maine has dropped 28 percent in the last 10 years, and yet the problem of tobacco addiction is still very prevalent, especially among adults ages 18-24. More than one-third of that age group still smoke, according to Maine Health and Human Services’ Public Health.

“We know that 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but we also know how powerful the addiction to this substance can be,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, public health director. “That’s why the HelpLine’s services are important for anyone who wants to quit smoking. If an individual has tried to quit before without success, we are encouraging them to try again.”

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine has maintained a high caller satisfaction rate. Beginning its fifth year of service, the HelpLine is continuing to provide information to the public about the immediate health benefits of smoking cessation and to promote the free and confidential assistance provided by its trained professionals.

Whether someone has been using tobacco for decades or just started, the chances for success go up dramatically if assistance is received. Coaching services have been proven to be three times more effective than an attempt to quit without support.

The HelpLine provides a variety of services to help people quit, including supportive coaching and nicotine replacement medication for qualifying individuals. The majority of callers -- 92 percent -- are tobacco users, but the HelpLine’s specialists also provide coaching for those wanting to help a family member or friend who wants to quit.

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine is administered by Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine and Maine Health and Human Services’ Public Health. The HelpLine’s toll-free number is 1-800-207-1230.