Calls to Smokers' Quitline Quadruple

State's Cigarette Tax Increase Likely Cause

ALBANY, NY (June 12, 2008) – Calls to the New York State Smokers' Quitline more than quadrupled during the week of June 2 compared to the same week a year ago, reflecting an anticipated increase in smokers interested in quitting as a result of the state cigarette tax increase.

More than 9,750 calls were made to the Smokers' Quitline the week of June 2-8, the week New York's cigarette tax increased by $1.25 to a total $2.75 a pack, the highest in the nation. Just under 2,300 calls were made to the Quitline during the week June 4-10, 2007.

Requests for free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Starter Kits also increased by more than four-fold. Smokers calling the Quitline requested nearly 7,900 NRT Starter Kits during the week June 2 – 8 compared with 1,722 Starter Kits requested during the week of June 4 – 10, 2007.

Studies show that cigarette taxes are the most effective way to reduce smoking because higher prices drive people to quit smoking and prevent younger children from starting smoking.

"Most smokers want to quit," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "The cigarette tax is doing exactly what we intended, giving smokers another powerful reason to try to quit. We're thrilled with these results."

"Our goal is to motivate and help as many smokers as possible to quit, which will save them money and immediately improve their health," said Ursula Bauer, Ph.D., director of the state's Tobacco Control Program. "We hoped and expected the tax increase would prompt more New Yorkers to quit. The volume of calls to the Quitline indicates this."

The majority of callers to the Quitline last week mentioned the tax increase as their motivation to quit, said Paula Celestino, director of the New York State Smokers' Quitline at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. In addition to the tax, many also noted the increased costs of gasoline and food as further reasons to eliminate spending on cigarettes, she said.

The toll-free New York State Smokers' Quitline – 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) – is staffed by quit coaches who provide free cessation coaching and quit plans, free NRT starter kits (nicotine patches, gum and lozenges) and free tips and information. The NRT starter kits, information and assistance are also available on the Quitline website at www.nysmokefree.com.