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Quitline And Nrt Help Thousands To Quit Smoking

Quitline And Nrt Help Thousands To Quit Smoking

New figures show that New Zealand’s Quitline has helped thousands of callers to stop smoking. The Quitline offers telephone support and advice and low-cost nicotine replacement therapy to people wanting help to quit smoking, with a particular focus on Mâori smokers.

Quit Group Executive Director Helen Glasgow said today that interviews completed with over 1000 callers to the Quitline, carried out for the Ministry of Health by BRC Marketing and Social Research*, found that over a third had quit smoking when followed up at six months. As well as receiving quit support and advice from the Quitline, callers contacted were also offered an exchange card for nicotine patches or gum.

She said that a comparison between the New Zealand Quitline and Australian Quitlines, carried out by The Quit Group, found that the Australian Quitlines had a significantly lower quit rate of 23 percent at the six-month mark. The Australian Quitlines do not offer subsidised patches or gum.

“The preliminary findings of the New Zealand study are that 34 percent of participants were quit when followed up six months after they first called the Quitline. This is an excellent result and shows that telephone support and advice, enhanced with the use of nicotine patches or gum, greatly improves quit rates.”

Helen Glasgow said that New Zealand was the first country in the world to offer subsidised patches and gum as part of a nationwide Quitline service.

“This study shows that such an investment pays huge dividends. It indicates that of the 140,000 callers who have registered with the Quitline since subsidised patches and gum became available, nearly 48,000 would be smokefree at six months.”

She said that nicotine patches and gum replace the nicotine that used to be received from tobacco and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile, people quitting can get on with learning how to be a non smoker.

“Once the eight-week course of patches or gum is finished, people have ‘un-trained’ themselves of some of those smokers’ habits – like no longer having a cigarette after eating, with a drink, or while on the phone.”

The Government subsidy for nicotine patches and gum took effect nationally in November 2000. As a result, the Quitline, and a number of other smoking cessation services began to offer smokers very low cost nicotine replacement therapy. The price of two months’ supply of patches or gum reduced from around $200 to $15.

“Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. You’ll reduce your risk of heart attack and cancer, feel fitter and look younger. Currently around 4500 New Zealanders die from smoking every year. Quitline support and advice, enhanced with nicotine replacement therapy, will help reduce this preventable loss of life.“

*Details of the study will be presented at the launch of the Tobacco Control Research Strategy Discussion Paper and Tobacco Control Symposium in the Beehive Theatrette, Ground Floor, Beehive, 9am to 12 noon, Thursday, May 1, 2003.


The NZ Longitudinal Cohort Survey was carried out for the Ministry of Health by BRC Marketing and Social Research.

The NZ/Australian Comparison Study was carried out by The Quit Group.

The purpose of the comparison study was to determine:

Self-reported point prevalence and sustained cessation among NRT scheme users Characteristics of users and their appraisal of the NRT scheme and Quitline service.

Hypothesis 1: Accessing NRT through a Quitline increases likelihood of point prevalence cessation Hypothesis 2: Accessing NRT through a Quitline increases likelihood of sustained cessation.

Treatment group: Callers to the NZ Quitline who received telephone helpline support and were sent an exchange card for NRT Comparison Group: Callers to a Quitline who received telephone helpline support only (Australian National Tobacco Campaign cohort).

Treatment group (NZ) Comparison group (Australia) Difference
2-4 week point prevalence quit rate 55.8% 17.1% 38.7%
6 month point prevalence quit rate 34.1% 23% 11.1%
(Point prevalence = quit on the day of being interviewed)

The Quit Group is one of a number of organisations in New Zealand that provide smoking cessation services. A charitable trust, The Quit Group was formed by the Cancer Society, Te Hotu Manawa Mâori and the Health Sponsorship Council to carry out programmes to reduce smoking in New Zealand. The programmes are funded by the Ministry of Health.

The Quit Group’s aims are to:

Educate people on the hazards of smoking and the benefits of quitting Develop and run programmes that motivate smokers to quit Contribute to efforts to reduce smoking rates in New Zealand Provide leadership in the area of smoking cessation Contribute to the national tobacco control strategy Work towards reducing Mâori smoking rates to the point where they are no longer greater than other groups Ensure services are affordable, accessible and relevant to Mâori.

The Quit Group has a number of programmes and initiatives designed to encourage people to quit smoking. These include:

The Quitline – 0800 778 778 The national Quitline provides free and confidential support and information to callers who have decided to quit smoking. Eligible smokers can also access subsidised nicotine patches and gum.

Quit Advisors are a skilled team at the heart of the Quitline. Many are ex-smokers, so they know how hard it can be to quit.

Nicotine patches and gum Callers who are assessed as suitable for nicotine patches or gum will be sent a voucher that can be exchanged at a pharmacy for patches or gum. The first four-weeks’ supply costs $5 and the second four-weeks’ supply costs $10.

Mass communications The media campaigns Every cigarette is doing you damage and It’s about whânau highlight the effects of smoking on health and family, and encourage people to call the Quitline. The campaigns will be on air in January and February.

The Quit Group also promotes smokefree environments with its Second-hand smoke kills series of commercials.

Health Provider Exchange Card Programme The Health Provider Exchange Card Programme allows health providers with an interest in smoking cessation to directly distribute exchange cards for subsidised patches or gum to smokers wanting to quit.
Quit for our Kids The Quit Group provides smoking cessation programmes for a number of hospitals. These are for people who smoke and have children who are in hospital. They are also for smokers who are hospital patients themselves and care for children. The programmes are designed to help these smokers quit.

The nine hospitals currently participating in the programme are Northland Health, Health Waikato, Mid Central Health, Healthcare Hawkes Bay, Taranaki Health, Capital Coast Health, Coast Health Care, Otago Health and Southland Health.

World Smokefree Day World No Tobacco Day is celebrated all over the world and used as a vehicle to promote smokefree issues. In New Zealand, we have renamed the day World Smokefree Day. The theme for World Smokefree Day 2003 in New Zealand is Let’s clear the air for us, with a focus on several settings, including smokefree cars, sports, clubs, homes and bars.

The World Smokefree Day group is made up of The Quit Group, the Cancer Society, ATAK, Te Hotu Manawa Mâori, the Health Sponsorship Council, the Smokefree Coalition and the Heart Foundation.

Further information about The Quit Group can be found on

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