Hot line to help smokers quit aims at new Asian immigrants


POSTED: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Asian smokers who want to quit can now call for help from professional counselors fluent in Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The free, confidential service, called Asian Smokers' Quitlines, was launched Monday in Hawaii and is aimed mainly at new Asian immigrants for whom English is not their first language, said Hye-ryeon Lee, interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

At a news conference yesterday, Lee said the service is funded by a three-year, $1.3 million grant provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Hawaii Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund. UH is assisting with the project's promotion and research, she said.

Julian Lipsher, state Department of Health manager of the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, said Quitlines is reaching a population previously unserved by mainstream smoking-prevention programs. Each caller will be matched with a counselor who has an awareness of differing cultural values and styles of communications, which will “;increase the comfort level”; of people who need help, Lipsher said.

“;It takes an average of 10 or more tries to quit,”; Lipsher said. “;Though many people quit on their own, if you get counseling help, it more than doubles the chance to quit successfully.”;

Quitlines is operated by the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, which has offered a help line to California smokers since 1992, Lee said. A study conducted by the center showed smoking prevalence rates were highest among Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, she said. (Japanese immigrants have had decades to assimilate into American society, in which warnings on the dangers of smoking are prevalent, Lee added.)

Lee personally directed a 2004 study that showed “;an alarmingly high rate of 44 percent”; of Korean men are smokers, especially in the 18-to-25 age group, compared with 20 percent of all Hawaii males. Her Hawaii Korean Health Promotion Project showed that 4,317 out of 5,079 Korean smokers planned to quit, she said.



Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Messages may be left after hours. Callers will receive up to six counseling sessions and may be eligible for medication.

» Korean: (800) 556-5564
» Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese): (800) 838-8917
» Vietnamese: (800) 778-8440