SRHD News

State Quitline Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Washingtonians Break Free from Tobacco

State Quitline Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Washingtonians Break Free from Tobacco

Nov 20, 2020

Media Contact: Kelli Hawkins | khawkins@srhd.org | (509) 324-1539, c (509) 994-8968


Spokane, Wash. - Today, the Washington State Quitline is marking its 20th Anniversary and announcing 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. This year, the North American Quitline Consortium ranked the Washington State Quitline second in the nation on participant quit rate.

“The use of tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States,” said Dr. Francisco Velazquez, interim health officer with Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). “We have made significant progress in decreasing the use of tobacco products by adults in our country, where almost half of smokers have quit in the past 20 years. This progress continues to be supported by efforts to ensure that everyone in our community who wants or needs to quit has access to support programs and helpful resources, such as the Quitline. Making the move to stop smoking is really important now, because smoking increases people’s risk of severe illness if infected by the virus causing COVID-19.”

An evaluation of 2018-19 Quitline services estimated that nearly 35 percent of participants had quit tobacco seven months after registering, and that for every dollar Washington spends on services, it saves five dollars in lost productivity, medical, and other costs.

Still, smoking costs Washington more than $2.8 billion in annual health care expenditures. Nationally, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death, and Washington is no exception. Approximately 8,300 Washington adults die each year from smoking, with a disproportionately high burden on minorities and people who receive low wages. As of 2019, 15.7% of adults in Better Health Together’s Accountable Community of Health region smoke cigarettes.

Many Washingtonians, including Medicaid clients, are eligible for tobacco cessation services through their health plans. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant enables the Quitline to provide five counseling calls and two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy to uninsured and underinsured participants. In 2019, the Quitline registered 307 of these participants in Better Health Together’s region, 12.1% of whom vape.

Any Washingtonian can connect with the Quitline to learn about services available to them. In addition to calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, Washingtonians can now text READY to 200-400 to register for free phone-based counseling, as well as text- and web-based cessation support. This support is increasingly tailored to meet the needs of specific populations, from teens who vape to adults with serious mental illness who smoke. Health care providers can also refer patients online at quitline.com.

The Quitline’s 20th Anniversary coincides with this year’s Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society event that promotes tobacco cessation.


For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Health's Washington State Quitline page.