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Celebrating 20 Years of Free Tobacco Cessation Services for Washingtonians

We're celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Washington State Quitline (WAQL)!

On Thursday, November 19, the Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with Optum and the DOH Commercial Tobacco Prevention Program, is rolling out modernized services that meet ongoing and emergent needs, from helping adults quit smoking – a risk factor for severe COVID-19 illness – to curbing the youth vaping epidemic.

Since November 2000, the Quitline has provided free, personalized, phone-based tobacco cessation counseling to tens of thousands of callers, saving them money and helping them live longer, healthier lives. The Washington State Quitline has a storied history, impacting lives locally and globally.

Commercial tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Washington, resulting in the loss of an estimated 8,300 lives and $2.8 billion in health care expenses each year. As of 2019, 13% of adults in Washington – over 750,000 – still smoke cigarettes. Tobacco cessation progress in our state has slowed considerably over the past decade, and tobacco-related disparities remain pronounced. This, paired with the fact that 1 in 5 Washington high schoolers now vapes, shows an increasing need for evidence-based tobacco use and dependence treatment.

Tobacco quitlines are proven public health interventionsIn 2018-2019, nearly 35% of WAQL participants quit tobacco within seven months of registering for the program. For every dollar Washington spends on cessation services, we save five dollars in lost productivity, medical, and other costs. The WAQL is estimated to provide societal benefits in excess of $28,000 per participant.

This year, the North American Quitline Consortium (NAQC) ranked Washington #2 in the nation on participant quit rate. However, NAQC ranked us last on quitline spending since the state only spends $0.33 per adult who smokes. The Quitline is funded solely by a CDC grant, enabling DOH to provide five counseling calls and two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy to uninsured and underinsured participants. 2,214 participants registered for Quitline services last year.

As the Quitline enters its third decade of operation, we are launching new branding and promoting the following innovative services:

  • Text2Enroll – Washingtonians can now text READY to 200-400 to begin the Quitline registration process (in addition to registering at quitline.com or calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW)
  • Online referrals – Health care providers can receive free training at doh.wa.gov/quitlinetraining and refer clients at quitline.com
  • Tailored counseling for high-risk populations – Pregnant women and people with serious mental illness receive extra and specialized support
  • Vaping cessation support – Teens and adults alike can receive free help with quitting e-cigarettes

The Quitline also has Spanish-speaking Quit Coaches and offers translation services in over 240 languages.

Please join us in celebrating the Quitline's 20th Anniversary! Take a moment to visit our updated webpage for providers and check out our new look. We hope you’ll join us in championing commercial tobacco cessation to your colleagues and provider networks by sharing the above resources.

For questions, please reach out to Nick Fradkin, DOH Tobacco Treatment Consultant, at nick.fradkin@doh.wa.gov.