Background: Many telephone quit lines provide free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to smokers who are trying to stop smoking. However, providing free NRT to smokers can be costly.
Objective: To compare NRT usage patterns, quit rate, and costs of giving smokers calling a telephone quit line different amounts of free NRT.
Design: A 3-group randomized trial was conducted.
Setting and Participants: A total of 2806 adult smokers of 10+ cigarettes per day who called the New York State Smokers' Quit Line (NYSSQL) were sent different amounts of nicotine patches for free as follows: (1) a 2-week supply of nicotine patches, (2) a 4-week supply, and (3) a 6-week supply. In addition, all study participants received a free stop smoking guide plus 1 proactive follow-up call attempt conducted 2 weeks after initially contacting the NYSSQL. Of the 2806 enrolled participants, 1682 completed the 7-month follow-up to assess their use of the NRT sent to them and smoking status.
Main Outcome Measures: Nicotine patch usage, quit rates, reductions in cigarette consumption, and cost-effectiveness measures.
Results: Most respondents (85%) reported using the nicotine patches sent to them, although the amount used varied in direct proportion to the amount sent. The 7- and 30-day nonsmoker prevalence rates measured at 7-month follow-up did not differ significantly between the 3 groups. The cost per attributable quit was also not significantly different between the 3 groups.
Conclusion: Sending out more than a free 2-week supply of patches to smokers who contact a quit line is no more effective in achieving smoking cessation than sending just 2 weeks of patches.