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Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182113871
Original Article

Costs of Giving Out Free Nicotine Patches Through a Telephone Quit Line

Cummings, K. Michael PhD, MPH; Hyland, Andrew PhD; Carlin-Menter, Shannon PhD; Mahoney, Martin C. PhD, MD; Willett, Jeffrey PhD; Juster, Harlan R. PhD

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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.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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