Newswise — It pays to advertise. It especially pays to advertise in Spanish if you want Spanish speakers to use a telephone helpline to quit smoking.

A study of usage of the Colorado QuitLine before and during a Spanish-language media campaign found that more Latinos called during and after the campaign and a greater percentage of those who called successfully quit smoking.

Smoking cessation phone services offer counseling or coaching on how to quit smoking and sometimes offer nicotine replacement therapy products. The study – published online and in the April supplement of the American Journal of Public Health – took place in 2007.

Spanish-language ads ran on television and radio and in movie theaters that catered to a Latino audience. The ads told viewers and listeners that the Colorado QuitLine was offering free nicotine replacement therapy and five telephone-coaching sessions to help smokers quit.

Latinos who called the line because of the campaign were significantly younger and more likely to be uninsured and less educated than those who called earlier were. The seven-day abstinence rates for Latinos who dialed in during the campaign was 41 percent, compared with 29.6 percent before the campaign, and the six-month abstinence rates rose from 9.6 percent to 18.8 percent.

“We were pleasantly surprised about the improved quit rates found among Latino callers,” said Emily Burns, M.D., lead study author and an epidemiology instructor with the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Denver.

There are differences in smoking cessation behaviors and treatment use patterns within the Latino population, Burns said. The group of Latino callers drawn to call in by the media campaign might be different from those who did not need advertising to motivate them to call, for example. “However, we actually found the opposite result of increased quit rates among the media campaign callers.”

“For this media program to reach smokers who are harder to reach—men, less educated and younger—was truly amazing,” said Linda A. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the North American Quitline Consortium in Phoenix. “This is a study that we will share with all of the quitlines because we think there are tremendous lessons to learn here.”

Every U.S. state and Canadian province has such a program, and all of the U.S. numbers offer Spanish-language counseling, Bailey said. Some states also offer counseling in other languages as well, and Canadian quitlines operate in both English and French.

The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. Visit for more information. Complimentary online access to the journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Contact Patricia Warin at APHA, (202) 777-2511 [email protected]

Burns EK, Levinson AH: Reaching Spanish-Speaking Smokers: State-level evidence of untapped potential for quitline utilization. Am J Public Health 100(3s), 2010.

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American Journal of Public Health (100(3s), April 2010)