New American Indian Quitline

National Jewish Health has launched a new quitline program aimed at reducing commercial tobacco use among American Indians. The American Indian commercial tobacco program launched on August 1, 2015, and is serving American Indians in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

Nationally, American Indians are more likely to use commercial tobacco and have more difficulty quitting than those in other racial and ethnic groups. Culturally specific cessation resources are vital for tribal communities, which respect cultural traditions around tobacco, ways of communicating, and barriers to smoking cessation. Despite being relatively easy-to-access cessation resources, quitlines have been known for having low rates of use by American Indians and Alaska Natives. With strong oral traditions, tribal communities often value face-to-face communication over telephone communication.  Add to that long histories of mis-treatment by and mis-trust of governmental agencies – and it’s no surprise that there has been reluctance to participate in telephone surveys and quitlines. National Jewish Health has observed that American Indian quitline callers have lower rates of engagement and utilization of quitline services than other callers to state quitlines.

The American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program is designed to help tend to these issues and provide quality cessation resources to tribal populations in their service areas. The Program connects American Indian quitline callers with Native coaches, who provide a culturally sensitive coaching protocol. Coaches work with callers to build increased rapport by reducing initial intake questions, increasing length of coaching calls and focusing intervention on the journey rather than a specific quit date. For the American Indian Program, the goal is reduced use of commercial tobacco products rather than complete tobacco cessation. The American Indian tobacco cessation program will have a dedicated web-site and phone number, and culturally sensitive printed materials as well as a text and email program.

“There is strong support both among National Jewish Health collaborators and in the literature about the need for better evidence-based protocols for this underserved population,” said Amy Lukowski, PsyD, clinical director of Heatlh Initiatives at National Jewish Health.  The American Indian Tobacco Cessation Program is a step in the right direction toward building the evidence base for culturally specific commercial tobacco cessation.

Tobacco-users wanting to quit can call a national number, 1-855-372-0037, and will be directed to their individual state quitline.  For more information, visit www.njhealth.org

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