© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Study Looks At Quit Hotlines For Smokers - Do They Help?

Photo of a cigarette burning

It’s hard to stop smoking, and smoking cessation programs like  Ohio’s smoking Quit Line, offered by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), can be important factors in helping people put out their last cigarette. 

But only about 30 percent of people who were referred to an Ohio smoking cessation program by their physician actually enrolled, according to researchers who studied why people didn't complete the free program.

Life circumstances, such as changes in housing or relationships, might get in the way of a person wanting to quit smoking or being able to complete the program, said study co-author Susan Flocke.

“I think that the main take-home from this is that there are a lot of life circumstances and situations which make it difficult to engage with a Quit Line,” the professor of family medicine said.

Flocke said some smokers were interested in participating but had phone issues, like broken phones or loss of service.

Some who didn’t participate or finish the program said the call-in service wasn’t what they were expecting.

“And while they said yes, they’d like to quit and yes, they’d like help, once they found out what the Quit Line offered, they said, ‘I don’t think that’s for me,’” Flocke said.

The Quit Line is one aspect of the smoking cessation program offered by ODH, which also offers information on how to stop smoking on its website.

Many of the respondents to the survey said they saw value in the program, even if it didn’t help them stop smoking this time, she said.

“We also know that quitting is very difficult; it takes multiple attempts,” she said. “They found it helpful, even if they didn’t fully complete the program. They indicated to us that they were helped with new strategies. They were encouraged and felt like they were more prepared for the next time that they wanted to make an attempt."

Flocke and the other study co-authors were surprised to find that a small number of smokers who were referred to the program didn’t enroll, but had already quit smoking on their own.