A Profile of Callers to the New South Wales Quitline, Australia, 2008–2011
Introduction: One population-level solution to smoking cessation are quitlines, telephone-based services to aid quitting. Monitoring the profile of quitline callers in a changing tobacco policy environment is important for informing future policy strategies and identifying target groups to improve the reach and impact of quitline services.
Methods: De-identified data from 43,618 new callers to the New South Wales Quitline, Australia between January 2008 and October 2011 (inclusive) were extracted from the Quitline database. Regression analyses explored the effect of year of first call on the distribution of demographic and smoking-related variables.
Results: Men calling the Quitline increased proportionately (prevalence ratio [PR] = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.03–1.08), but callers from non-major city areas fell (PR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.87–0.93) in 2011 versus 2008. The proportion of callers not working demonstrated a significant increasing linear trend (PR = 1.08, p < .001), although area-level socioeconomic status did not change. The proportions of new Quitline callers who had stopped smoking (relative to still smoking) (relative risk ratio [RRR] = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.14–1.46) and who were classified as low nicotine dependent (vs. high nicotine dependent, RRR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.39–1.83) were higher in 2011 versus 2008. Proportionately, more callers nominated “money” as a motivation to quit in 2010 (PR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.49–1.66) and 2011 (PR = 1.70, 95% CI = 1.62–1.79) compared with 2008.
Conclusions: Quitline callers showed decreasing tobacco consumption and dependence 2008 to 2011, but remained more addicted than the average NSW smoker. Clear effects of tobacco policy were shown, as money as a motivator increased dramatically in conjunction with increased tobacco taxation, highlighting the importance of promoting cessation services concurrent with policy change to capitalize on increased motivation to quit.