New Year’s resolutions, tax increase likely influenced smokers to quit
New Year’s is a traditional time to quit smoking, as people resolve to make permanent changes that improve their lives and health.
At QUITPLAN Services – ClearWay Minnesota’s program providing Minnesotans with free quitting help – we often see a bump in registrations as we approach the New Year holiday. But this year, something extraordinary happened – we saw our volumes rise to their highest levels since launching new service options in 2014. In the weeks surrounding New Year’s, QUITPLAN Services provided support to 2,902 tobacco users – an increase of more than 200 percent over a comparable time period in late 2015. Visits to quitplan.com increased more than 80 percent.
What explains this jump? New Year’s is certainly a part of it, but probably as much of a factor was a small cigarette tax increase that took effect on January 1. Cigarette tax increases are proven to motivate smokers to make quit attempts; in fact, a larger increase in 2013 resulted in more than 62 percent of Minnesota smokers who quit saying the tax helped them make quit attempts or stay smoke-free. The price increase this year wasn’t as big, but it was highly covered in the news, and likely had an impact.
Another likely factor is our QUITPLAN Services promotions. For years, we have used Minneapolis advertising firm Clarity Coverdale Fury to create clever, entertaining ads that engage smokers and show how QUITPLAN Services can help them. Our current batch of ads features animated characters talking about how hard it is to quit, and how QUITPLAN Services can provide hope. We also are currently running a TV infomercial that interviews our Quit Coaches and provides detailed information about the program.
Finally, our annual QuitCash ChallengeTM contest gives Minnesotans the chance to win cash by quitting. Throughout the winter months, “Mini-Quit Mondays” encourage smokers to take incremental steps toward quitting, such as not smoking after meals. Then, in the spring, one committed quitter who stops smoking for the entire month of April will be drawn and win a $5,000 cash prize.
QUITPLAN Services is free of charge to Minnesotans, and provides clinically proven tools to quit smoking, such as counseling, patches and gum. Minnesotans who are interested in the program can learn more at www.quitplan.com.