Quit Smoking to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Contact the Helpline

Ready to quit or thinking about it? Visit California Smoker's Helpline.

Cancers caused by tobacco can be prevented, and the first step may be to seek professionals who can help. Studies show that smokers who use Helpline counseling are twice as likely to quit as those who don't.

The California Smokers' Helpline — a partnership between investigators at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and the California Department of Health — offers telephone counseling assistance and a range of other free services, such as self-help materials and opportunities to participate in ongoing research projects.

You can also see a comprehensive list of National Cancer Institute tobacco cessation resources.

Online Referral Service

Health professionals can now refer patients who smoke to the Helpline quickly and easily thanks to a web-based referral service. Register online to start referring your patients.

About the Smokers' Helpline

The Helpline, also known as 1-800-N0-BUTTS, was established in 1992 by Cancer Center researchers and became the first in the nation to offer free, telephone-based services for tobacco users wanting to quit. The Helpline has served as a model for similar services that are now available in all 50 states.

Since its debut in August 1992, the California Smokers’ Helpline has provided free, personalized and confidential services to more than 600,000 Californians from diverse communities throughout the state.

Changing Lives in L.A.

The Helpline has changed the lives of thousands of people across California. Dr. Patricia Essilfie of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center shares its impact in Los Angeles.
Watch video

Quitting assistance is provided in:

  • English (800-NO-BUTTS)
  • Spanish (800-45-NO-FUME)
  • Korean (800-556-5564)
  • Vietnamese (800-778-8440)
  • Mandarin and Cantonese (800-838-8917) 
Specialized services are also available for teens, pregnant women, and tobacco chewers.


How the Helpline Works

First-time callers are given a choice of services, self-help materials and/or counseling. Clients who choose counseling can begin immediately.

Helpline Counselor

A Helpline counselor assists a caller.

The initial counseling session lasts approximately 40 minutes. During this time, counselors strive to build self-confidence, develop an individualized quit plan, and set a quit date.


Counselors will make up to five shorter, follow-up calls after the client quits to help prevent relapse, which is more likely to happen in the first week after quitting. These calls last 10-15 minutes and are designed to keep clients on track with their plan, offer support, and provide a reasonable measure of accountability. Counselors review everything from withdrawal symptoms to pharmacotherapy issues.


If a client relapses, the counselor discusses the specific smoking situation that triggered the relapse, and helps the client plan differently for next time. Many clients will set a new quit date and the process begins anew.