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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   November 14, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
For DHSS:
Laura Otterbourg/609-984-7160
For Fleishman-Hillard:
Lisa Holmes/212-453-2489



DHSS OFFERS RESIDENTS THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE
QUIT-SMOKING SERVICES PROGRAM IN THE NATION

Number of users increases dramatically as
Quit services program celebrates its first anniversary


TRENTON -The New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) acting Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH, announced today that New Jersey's Quitline and Quitnetsm, launched on October 26, 2000, are well on their way to meeting the expectations set by the Department for helping smokers who want to quit smoking. Quitline users have achieved a 28 percent quit rate six months after completing the program. Roughly 39 percent of Quitnet registrants who responded to a recent survey reported they were smoke-free six months later. By contrast, those who attempt to quit on their own traditionally have a 3 to 5 percent success rate. "These interim figures are certainly promising. We think these services are really helping people who want to quit smoking," Dr. DiFerdinando said.

More than 139,000 people logged on to New Jersey Quitnet in the first program year. Visitors remained for an average of 13 minutes each visit. The typical Quitline user receives counseling for about three months before a successful quit. In addition to New Jersey's Quitnet and Quitline, there are now 15 Quitcenters - personal counseling clinics - throughout the state. New Jersey is the only state in the nation to offer the public all three quitting services.

"New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation, so before launching our program, we began by studying the smoking habits of our residents. Research showed us that the people who most want to quit are between the ages of 34-54, and many said they would be willing to try no-or low-cost services. In fact, nearly three-quarters of these smokers said they would like to break the habit, so we decided to promote the Quit services to this group. Our first year results show that this approach is working. This target population, which we are reaching, is the age group with the greatest number of smokers in New Jersey." said Dr. DiFerdinando.

To reach these smokers, DHSS instituted a multifaceted advertising and public relations campaign, including billboards, bus sides and newspaper and radio advertising. In September, 2001, the department expanded on its early efforts to include network television advertising and :30 radio spots, in both Spanish and English.

Since the new wave of television and radio commercials hit the air mid-September 2001, visits to NJ Quitnet have increased by 69 percent. In that same period, calls to NJ Quitline have increased a striking 100 percent.

Registrants to the services are defined as those willing to share demographic information, which enables DHSS to follow up with them on their progress. Many more people successfully use the services, but because they do not register, the department has no way to track their progress. Therefore, DHSS will get a truer picture and a better indication of the program's effort to help smokers quit when we have completed the analysis of the second Adult Tobacco Survey.

For people who need face-to-face counseling in order to succeed, New Jersey offers 15 Quitcenters in convenient locations across the state. Fred Jacobs, M.D., J.D., Chairman of NJ Breathes, states, "New Jersey understands that not all people will respond to the same approach to quitting. By offering phone, Web and clinic options, the state is increasing the chances for individual success."

On the one-year anniversary of the program launch, Dr. DiFerdinando noted, "In the first program year 7,000 smokers have registered for Quit services and thousands more have obtained valuable information to help them quit. Much of the groundbreaking work of building awareness has been accomplished. In the past year, the Department has done a lot to improve its understanding of young adults' attitudes toward tobacco use. Second year program goals will include increased efforts to reach specific population groups including young adults, pregnant women and smokers in the workplace."

Young adults are an important group to reach. Since the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry, the tobacco companies concentrate their efforts on this demographic, both because they are the youngest legal targets for tobacco promotion and because college students are role models for younger teens. DHSS funded a Rowan University research team to study attitudes and perceptions about tobacco use among college students and analyze New Jersey collegiate tobacco policies. The study revealed most students underestimate the health effects associated with tobacco and overestimate the numbers of students who smoke.

Pregnant women present challenges because of the significant percentage that return to smoking after giving birth. DHSS plans to reach this population through a model program initiated by the Southern Perinatal Cooperative with a grant from DHSS. This program will be replicated in other parts of the state. In addition, UMDNJ-Newark, with a grant from DHSS, is training pediatric residents to work with new mothers to help them stay tobacco free. To reach workers, DHSS funds the American Cancer Society to operate a workplace outreach program.

DHSS funds New Jersey Quitline, Quitnet and Quitcenters with money from the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states and the tobacco industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked New Jersey as 11th among the states in committing a substantial portion of MSA funds for tobacco control programs. New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is designed to reduce the sickness, disability and death among New Jerseyans associated with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. New Jersey's Quit services won a national award from the Women Executives in Public Relations Foundation (WEPR) for its unique combination of services reaching out to all New Jersey smokers.

For more information about New Jersey's Quit services, visit http://www.state.nj.us/health/


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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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