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The Quitline has excellent results

Media Release

16 July 2001

One in five smokers giving up for three months or longer after using the Quitline is an excellent result based on international experience the Ministry of Health said today.

New Zealand's Quitline smoking cessation programme has seen 19 percent of callers who were offered exchange cards for subsidised nicotine patches and gum quit for three months or longer, a telephone survey has found.

A Ministry of Health commissioned study of 300 callers to the Quitline last November, found that 19 percent reported they had quit for three months without a single relapse. Each person involved in this survey had received at least one exchange card for subsidised nicotine patches and gum.

National Drug Policy Senior Analyst Paul Marriott-Lloyd said the survey showed the Quitline had been well received by those who had accessed it.

"Nineteen percent is a good result considering the addictive nature of tobacco and it is comparable with international studies. It is worth remembering the average number of times taken before a smoker quits for good is between six and seven."

"There are over 100 international studies that prove the success rate is between 10 and 20 percent more for those who use a programme which includes nicotine replacement therapy and ongoing support."

"Over the past 10 years the average quit rate for New Zealanders has been around 1-2 percent."

Another 32 percent of people spoken to during the Quitline survey claimed they had been entirely smoke free for two months and another 38 percent said they were smoke free for one month.

Subsidised nicotine patches and gum has been available through the Quitline since November 1 2000.

The replacement therapy can be accessed by calling a national freephone (0800 778 778). People who smoke 10-15 cigarettes a day or more and who are assessed as suitable for nicotine patches or gum are sent an exchange card. Smokers can take their exchange card to a participating pharmacy and for $10 will receive a four-week course of nicotine replacement patches or gum. Smokers are eligible for eight weeks of patches or gum in total per 12 month period.

The February study was undertaken to provide indicative information on how well the programme was working. A more robust survey using long-term data will begin in the near future and the data is expected in 2002.

Mr Marriott-Lloyd said the overall service uptake had been incredibly high. The Quitline received approximately 70,000 calls in the first six weeks of the programme.

"It is great to see just how many New Zealanders were motivated to quit smoking. Calls are now averaging around 15,000 a month.This is very encouraging and shows that the Quitline is a valuable addition to this country's tobacco control programme.

"As far as we are aware distribution of subsidised nicotine patches and gum has not taken place on this scale anywhere else in the world".

In June 2000 the Government announced that $6.18m per annum had been allocated to provide subsidised nicotine patches and gum to heavier smokers.

The Ministry of Health remains in discussion with the Quitline about whether demand for nicotine replacement therapy will be met by the current budget. The Ministry is continuing to monitor demand.

Currently demand for nicotine patches and gum is dropping slightly. Figures for the past three months show the number of people receiving exchange cards for nicotine patches and gum are: April 5360, May 6536, June 4700. At the start of the year the monthly figure was peaking around 7000.

As of May this year the Ministry of Health has spent $2,879,923 on nicotine replacement therapy products. This figure does not include the total spent on the products because Quitline clients have up to three months to obtain nicotine patches or gum from their pharmacy.

ENDS

For more information contact Hayley Brock, Media Advisor (04) 496 2115, 025 495 989 www.moh.govt.nz


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