Characteristics of smokers accessing the Puerto Rico Quitline

Ana P. Ortiz, Elba C. Díaz-Toro, William A. Calo, Virmarie Correa-Fernández, Antonio Cases, María C. Santos-Ortiz, Carlos Mazas, Luz Mejía, David W. Wetter


Background: In 2004, the Puerto Rico Department of Health implemented the Puerto Rico Quitline (PRQ), a proactive, telephone-based smoking cessation counseling program. This study examines the demographic and smoking-related characteristics of the individuals served by the PRQ. Methods: Analyses included PRQ participants registered from December 2004-December 2005. PRQ call rates and rate ratios (RR) were calculated overall, among smokers, and stratified by relevant covariates. Associations between sex and relevant characteristics of PRQ participants were compared using regression models. Results: Call rates per 100,000 smokers in PR were lower among men than women (RR=0.50, 95% CI=0.44-0.56), and higher among all age groups > 25 years of age as compared to those aged 15-24 years (RRs= 4.34-8.14) and among smokers living in the San Juan metropolitan area relative to smokers residing outside the metropolitan area (RR=1.45, 95% CI=1.29-1.63). Mass media was the most common way in which participants learned about the PRQ ( > 70%), with only 2-3% of callers reporting a physician’s referral as the source of their information about the PRQ. With respect to reasons for quitting, men were less likely than women to report concern about a child’s health (OR=0.62, 95% CI=0.46-0.84) and cigarette odor (OR=0.64, 95% CI=0.41-0.99). Meanwhile, men were more likely (OR=1.39, 95% CI=1.01-1.91) to report the influence of other smokers as a barrier during quitting. Conclusions: PRQ promotion and outreach efforts should target populations underserved by the PRQ including male, young adult, and non-metropolitan area smokers. Initiatives that link the PRQ with primary care providers in promoting smoking cessation should be encouraged.


Quitline; Tobacco cessation programs; Telephone counseling; Puerto Ricans

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