Learning Objectives: Describe how decreasing prevalence and consumption have changed the characteristics of smokers seeking help.
It has been suggested that as smoking prevalence decreases the remaining smokers will be more addicted and harder to treat. The California Smokersí Helpline (CSH), a statewide quitline, examined characteristics of its callers over time. Data were collected from intake interviews of callers from 1993 to the present. Comparative population data came from California Tobacco Surveys (CTS).
Call volume to CSH has increased from 1993 (n=14,680) to 2001 (n=48,660). Survey data indicate that both smoking prevalence and consumption are decreasing in California. However, there is no indication that CSH callers have become more addicted over time. In 1993 70% of smokers calling CSH smoked 15+ cigarettes per day (cpd). In 2001, that number was 67%. Not surprisingly, smokers who seek treatment are more highly addicted than the general smoking population in California (40% smoke 15+ cpd, 1999CTS). CSH callers are more likely to live with other smokers (49%) than their survey counterparts (35%, 1999CTS), increasing their risk for relapse after quitting.
Despite decreasing consumption in California there continues to be a need for statewide cessation services for smokers interested in quitting. In addition, the stability of addiction level among callers suggests that quitline interventions which were proven effective when prevalence was higher are still useful now that prevalence is lower.
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