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Offering free NRT through a tobacco quitline may increase quitline utilization and quit rates.



The combination of quitline counseling with NRT increases quit rates compared with medication alone. Offering free NRT and multisession telephone support leads to higher quit rates with costs per incremental quit similar to less intensive protocols also because telephone counseling teaches smokers the appropriate ways to use NRT. A trial evaluation of distributing free NRT through Ontario, Canada’s quitline saw that those who received free NRT through the mail had a 24.1% 6-month abstinence rate compared to smokers who did not receive free NRT, of whom only 11.6% were abstinent.

Offering free nicotine patches has a dramatic effect on increasing calls to quitlines. Call volume to Ohio’s state-run tobacco quitline in the US increased from 78 calls per day to 188 calls per day after free NRT was offered (p<0.0001). In addition, 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 6 months among all quitline callers increased from 10.3% (95% CI 9.7-10.9) to 14.9% (95% CI 14.3-15.5) following the availability of free NRT. After it began to offer free NRT in 2004, Oregon’s state-run quitline doubled its received calls and increased quitting four-fold.



Tinkelman D, Wilson SM, Willett J, Sweeney CT. Offering free NRT through a tobacco quitline: impact on utilization and quit rates. Tob Control. 2007; 16(Suppl 1): i42-i46.

Fellows, JL, Bush T, McAfee T, Dickerson J
. Cost effectiveness of the Oregon quitline “free patch initiative”. Tob Control. 2007; 16(Suppl 1): i47-i52.

Cummings KM, Fix B, Celestino P, Carlin-Menter S, O'Connor R, Hyland A. Reach, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of free nicotine medication giveaway programs. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2006; 12(1): 37-43.

Stead LF, Hartmann-Boyce J, Perera R, Lancaster T. Telephone counselling for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 12;8:CD002850.pub3.

Zawertailo L, Dragonetti R, Bondy SJ, Victor JC, Selby P. Reach and effectiveness of mailed nicotine replacement therapy for smokers: 6-month outcomes in a naturalistic exploratory study. Tob Control 2013; 22(3): e4.

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