California Smokers’ Helpline

PSF logoThe California Smokers’ Helpline (CSH) offers free telephone counseling (1-800-NO-BUTTS) to any resident of California who wants to quit smoking. Operating out of the University of California, San Diego since 1992, CSH also offers self-help materials and referrals to local programs.

California Smokers HelplineCSH services have been proven in clinical trials to double a smoker’s chances of successfully quitting. These services are available in six languages: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese. Specialized services are available for teens, pregnant women and tobacco chewers. Additionally, the Helpline provides information to friends and family members of tobacco users.

To ensure that the unique needs of pregnant smokers would be addressed, PSF partnered with CSH in 1999 to develop a specialized telephone counseling protocol for pregnant women. This protocol was proven effective in a large, randomized research study with pregnant smokers (N=1,194) and is currently being used throughout the state of California.

PSF also began using a proactive recruitment strategy, whereby smokers identified by a PSF clinician are contacted by CSH counselors, rather than waiting for patients to make the initial call. Of 2,322 pregnant smokers identified by their obstetrician and given the CSH toll free number for cessation counseling, only 2 percent called on their own. Proactive recruitment, however, resulted in 40 percent of these smokers receiving cessation services from the CSH, a 17-fold increase. This proactive link to cessation counseling resulted in 17 times as many smokers receiving cessation services compared to those who are told to call in on their own. This proactive contact model is currently be used by state quit lines across the country. To learn more about this study and protocol design, read the following article: “Telephone Counseling for Pregnant Smokers: Essential Elements.”

To learn more about the California Smokers’ Helpline, visit