Maine health officials are expecting a surge in people trying to quit smoking over the next month.

New Year’s Day begins the busiest time of the year for the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. Its telephone treatment specialists expect call volume may double in January compared to an average month.

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine has one of the highest call volumes in the nation — about 8,000 callers per year. Since quitting smoking is always one of the top New Year’s resolutions, the HelpLine is ready for an increase in calls.

Anyone who has tried to quit smoking knows it is a tough battle and it does not always happen on the first try. For every smoker who successfully quits each year, thousands more make attempts but do not succeed.

“Many smokers reflect on their failed quit attempts and feel discouraged,” said David Spaulding, Program Manager of the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. “But their experience is not uncommon. It takes most people a number of attempts before they quit for good. In fact, it takes the typical smoker closer to eight attempts.”

The odds are more stacked against people if they do not seek help and support. Fortunately, the Maine Tobacco HelpLine has been proven to work for thousands of people across the state. Whether someone has been using tobacco for decades or just a few years, the chances for success go up dramatically with assistance from the HelpLine. Thhe Maine Tobacco HelpLine has been recognized as a “Top Performer” by the North American Quitline Consortium.

Personal coaching through the HelpLine has been proven to be three times more effective than an attempt to quit without support. In addition to coaching, the HelpLine provides a variety of services to help people quit, including nicotine replacement medication for qualifying individuals. On average, 30-40 percent o the people that take advantage of the HelpLine’s full program of counseling and medications will be successful.

“Most tobacco users in Maine would like to quit, but tobacco is a very powerful addiction,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC, “If someone has tried to quit before without success, we’re encouraging them to try again in 2010. We want people to know that they don’t have to do this alone.”
About 90 percent of the Helpline callers are tobacco users, but advice and coaching are available for people who want to help a friend or family member quit. Services are free and confidential.

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine is administered by the Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine, Maine CDC, Department of Health and Human Services.
The HelpLine’s toll-free number is 1-800-207-1230.