Stop-smoking lines flooded as tobacco tax rises

March 31, 2009

(AP) -- Calling your state stop-smoking hot line for help kicking the habit? Expect a wait: Smokers are flooding the lines in a panic over an increase in the tobacco tax.

Denver-based National Jewish Health received triple the usual number of calls Monday for a March day to quit lines it runs in six states: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and Ohio.

The calls - 2,317 on Monday - had steadily increased all month as began dealing with a big price hit in a sour economy. Not only does the per-pack federal tax climb from 39 cents to $1.01 on Wednesday, but the major cigarette makers raised prices several weeks ago in anticipation.

Quit lines around the country are feeling the surge, according to an informal survey by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that found a missed opportunity as cash-strapped states struggled to meet demand.

Michigan's quit line itself had to quit - working, that is. It ran out of money in mid-March after logging more than 65,000 callers in five days. Besides counseling and tips, Michigan's hot line offered free patches, gum or lozenges. The giveaway program in 2008 generated only about 20,000 calls in six weeks, the campaign noted.

Arkansas quit general advertising of the quit line to keep up with calls that rose from about 500 a week in January to more than 2,000 a week in mid-March, the campaign said. And Indiana and Oklahoma were receiving record-level weekly calls.

Price surges typically spur would-be quitters to take the plunge. Not all will be successful. The tobacco-free kids group estimates that about 1 million adults will quit as a result of the tax increase.

Consumers can dial 1-800-QUIT-NOW to be directed to their state hot lines.


Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Study: Cigarettes contain more nicotine

Related Stories

Smoking cessation rates stall

October 27, 2006

The number of U.S. smokers -- about 45 million -- in 2005 was the same as in 2004, prompting suggestions that the eight-year tobacco battle has hit a lull.

Smoking rate has plummeted in New York City

June 21, 2007

New York City’s smoking rate has plummeted since a comprehensive program against smoking was launched in 2002, according to findings issued today in the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity ...

New report on smoking shows who's quitting, who's not

August 21, 2007

Quitting smoking is not easy, but thousands of New Yorkers succeed at it every year. Who’s trying to kick the habit, and who’s succeeding" In a new report titled Who’s Still Smoking, the Health Department sheds light ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Apr 01, 2009
Thought state funds from the tobacco settlement were to be used to operate these "quit" programs. Patches, gums, drugs and counseling should all be pre-paid for those who wish to quit. States blew through this money.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.