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California Smokers’ Helpline Marks 25th Anniversary

The logo for the California Smokers' Helpline is shown on Nov. 16, 2017.

Credit: Roland Lizarondo

Above: The logo for the California Smokers' Helpline is shown on Nov. 16, 2017.

It started as a research project in 1992. The idea was to see if a phone-based counseling service could actually help people quit smoking.

The California Smokers' Helpline on Thursday celebrated its 25th anniversary. It has provided assistance to 800,000 Californians.

The Helpline offers specially-trained counselors who offer nicotine quitting assistance in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean. Chat services and a text messaging program are available, as well.

Dr. Sharon Cummins, the Helpline’s director of research, said a lot of clients said they feel hopeless about quitting smoking.

“But we have proof, research evidence, that talking with a counselor is really an important way to help, and it will double your chances of success,” Cummins explained.

Once people make contact with one of the Helpline's counselors, they are not left to fend for themselves, Cummins said.

“We know when people are going to be struggling," she pointed out. "We have done a lot of research in this area. And so we can set up our phone calls to get them at the times when they’re most likely to be in danger of relapsing.”

California’s has the nation’s second-lowest smoking rate. Even so, about 40,000 Californians die each year from smoking-related causes.

The Helpline is available at 1-800-NO-BUTTS.

A San Diego-based toll-free phone line designed to help smokers kick the habit is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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