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Quitline is a telephone helpline offering treatment for addiction and behavior change/issues. Presently most quitlines treat tobacco or alcohol addiction. Quitlines are treatment centres that offer advanced treatment and should not be confused with call centres.

Smoking cessation quitlines[edit]

Tobacco quitlines have proven to be comparable to cessation clinics in terms of proportion of smokers smoke-free at follow-up [1-4] but are more cost effective. [5] In general quitlines have been reported to enhance 12-month abstinence rates from 7% to approximately 30%. [6-9]

The treatment protocol in most tobacco cessation quitlines is a mixture of motivational interviewing [10], behaviour therapy, and pharmacological consultation. Qutiline numbers are presently printed on cigarette packages in several countries as a part of the health warning labels. Tobacco quitlines may offer a reactive service, meaning that counsellors initiate no contact but clients signing up for support are encouraged to call the service whenever they need. Or a proactive service where clients signing up for treatment are offered a call up service. [11] Many quitlines offer both reactive and proactive treatments and leave it up to the client to choose.

Alcohol quitlines[edit]

Telephone based advice (call centres) for alcoholics and their relatives are relatively common and some are gradually developing into telephone based treatment centres. However, alcohol quitlines are still at their infancy. In Sweden where telephone-based treatment for tobacco addiction is well established, an advanced alcohol treatment quitline (first of its kind) opened in January 2007. The service is run in close collaboration with the Swedish national tobacco quitline. The primary aim of the Swedish alcohol quitline is to support people who are starting to lose control over their alcohol consumption to regain control. The treatment protocol is based on motivational interviewing and cognitive behavior therapy offering support to excessive consumers of alcohol and relatives alike.


1. Zhu S-H, Melcer T, Sun J, Rosbrook B, Pierce MS. Smoking cessation with and without assistance a population-based analysis. Am J Prev Med 2000;18(4):305-11.

2. Zhu S-H, Anderson CM, Tedeschi GJ, et al. Evidence of real-world effectiveness of a telephone quitline for smokers. N Engl J Med 2002;347(14):1087-93.

3. Helgason AR, Tomson T, Lund KE, Galanti R, Ahnve S, Gilljam H. Factors related to abstinence in a telephone helpline for smoking cessation. European J Public Health 2004: 14;306-310.

4. Wadland WC, Stöffelmayr B, Berger E, Crombach A, Ives K. Enhancing smoking cessation rates in primary care. J Fam Pract 1999;48(9):711-18.

5. Tomson T, Helgason AR, Gilljam H. Quitline in smoking cessation – a cost effectiveness analysis. Int J of Techn Ass in Health Care 2004 : 20;469-474.

6. Fiore MC, Bailey WC, Cohen SJ, et al. Treating tobacco use and dependence. Clinical practice guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, June 2000.

7. Stead LF, Lancaster T. Telephone counselling for smoking cessation. (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2001. Oxford: Update Software.

8. Lichtenstein E, Glasgow RE, Lando HA, Ossip-Klein DJ, Boles SM. Telephone counseling for smoking cessation: rationales and meta-analytic review of evidence. Health Educ Res 1996;11:243-57.

9. Zhu S-H, Strecch V, Balabanis M, Rosbrook B, Sadler G, Pierce JP. Telephone counseling for smoking cessation: effects of single-session and multiple-session interventions. J Consult Clin Psychol 1996;64:202-11.

10. Lindqvist H, Forsberg LG, Forsberg L, Rosendahl I, Enebrink P, Helgason AR. Motivational interviewing in an ordinary Clinical setting: a controlled Clinical trial at the Swedish National Tobacco Quitline. Int J of Techn Ass in Health Care 2004 : 20;469-474.[1]

11. Drehmer JE, Hipple B, Nabi-Burza E, et al. Proactive enrollment of parents to tobacco quitlines in pediatric practices is associated with greater quitline use: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 2016 Jun 24;16:520. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3147-1. [11]

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