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800-number helps smokers hit habit

After lung cancer took the life of an ABC network journalist, ABC aired a series with a kick-the-habit hotline. Afterwards, the program experienced a surge of callers. If you smoke or chew tobacco and you've decided to quit, 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a free service that can help. Research shows it takes constant reminders for people to take advantage of programs that help smokers quit. National promotion of the smoking cessation hotline can dramatically increase its use, according a new study. The hotline -- 1-800-QUIT-NOW -- connects callers to counselors who have tips on how to quit smoking. It's not enough to simply have the service. People have to know about it. In November 2005, ABC's "World News Tonight" ran a series about the dangers of tobacco. Called "quit to live," it was inspired by the death of anchorman Peter Jennings from lung cancer. The quit-line number was shown at the end of every story. Researchers recently measured the effects of this promotion by looking at the number of calls to the hotline before, during, and after the World News series. They found that the number of calls tripled during the quit to live programming -- rising from under 10,000 beforehand to nearly 30,000 when the programs aired. The calls dropped off again after the series ended. Researchers say these findings mean that more frequent and sustained advertising of the hotline is needed. Researchers are looking at other ways of promoting the quit-line number, such as printing it on cigarette packs.

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