With record registrations over the past two years and a high reach rate across the state, the Helpline is also exceeding national benchmarks for success.

OKLAHOMA CITY – More Oklahomans are reaching out to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline for help quitting tobacco use, making the helpline one of the top-ranked programs in the nation.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, a free service available 24/7 to Oklahomans who want help quitting tobacco, saw a 38 percent increase in the number of Oklahomans enrolling in services in 2017.

With record registrations over the past two years and a high reach rate across the state, the Helpline is also exceeding national benchmarks for success with a 32.2 percent quit rate for Helpline callers who report 30-days smoke free 7 months after registering for services. Typical quit rates for the cold turkey method are at 5 percent. Tobacco users from all 77 counties, a wide range of ages and socio-economic status accessed the Helpline’s free services.

“TSET expanded Helpline services in 2015 with an emphasis on meeting the tobacco user where they are and to provide more options to help them quit,” said John Woods, TSET executive director. “This expansion of services, along with the support of media and other TSET programs like the Healthy Living Program reinforce these messages, helping Oklahoma reach nearly 5 percent of smokers in Oklahoma – one of the highest reach rates of any quitline in the country.”

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline uses proven, best-practice methods to provide free, cessation services to help Oklahomans quit tobacco. Oklahomans can register for services by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, online at OKhelpline.com, or receive a referral from a healthcare provider. Tobacco users can choose from a variety of free services from the traditional telephone counseling program to expanded services including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), web-based assistance, text messaging, emails, and a Quit Guide.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has been instrumental in bringing Oklahoma’s smoking rate to an all-time low with 19.6 percent of Oklahoma adults smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“High utilization of the Helpline, high satisfaction in services, and favorable quit rates for those who used the services further supports that the investment TSET is making in tobacco control is contributing to the record low smoking rate,” said Laura Beebe, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, who conducted the review of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline data for fiscal year 2017, which runs July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

The Helpline also expanded its reach to high-risk target audiences and increased the age and socio-economic range of registrants.

“Tobacco users over the age of 55 accounted for about 30 percent of Helpline users, which is critical because the longer a smoker smokes, the more likely they are to experience negative health consequences,” Woods said. “Expanded services such as text messages and email offer more choices and utilize the technology preferred by many tobacco users – especially males, smokers with a higher level of education, and younger tobacco users.”

In addition to tobacco users calling or registering via web, health care providers can proactively refer their patients who want help quitting to the Helpline. During fiscal year 2017, more than 18,000 referrals were made by health professionals and health systems across the state.

Over the last seven years, TSET has layered in funded grants that work with hospitals to ensure that doctors are talking with their patients about tobacco use, referrals are being made to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, and participating hospitals are tobacco-free environments. Physicians working in rural and underserved areas through the TSET-funded Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program are also making referrals to the Helpline.

The Helpline was the first program funded by TSET in 2003. Since then, more than 360,000 tobacco users received free services to quit tobacco.

TSET was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000 as a long term strategy to improve health and ensure settlement payments from a 1998 multi-state lawsuit against the tobacco industry are used to improve the health of all Oklahomans. The funds are placed in an endowment to ensure a growing funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs.