BACKGROUND:Anti-smoking advertisements are an effective population-based smoking reduction strategy. The Quitline telephone service provides a first point of contact for adults considering quitting. Because of data complexity, the relationship between anti-smoking advertising placement, intensity, and time trends in total call volume is poorly understood. In this study we use a recently developed semi-varying coefficient model to elucidate this relationship. METHODS:Semi-varying coefficient models comprise parametric and nonparametric components. The model is fitted to the daily number of calls to Quitline in Victoria, Australia to estimate a nonparametric long-term trend and parametric terms for day-of-the-week effects and to clarify the relationship with target audience rating points (TARPs) for the Quit and nicotine replacement advertising campaigns. RESULTS:The number of calls to Quitline increased with the TARP value of both the Quit and other smoking cessation advertisement; the TARP values associated with the Quit program were almost twice as effective. The varying coefficient term was statistically significant for peak periods with little or no advertising. CONCLUSIONS:Semi-varying coefficient models are useful for modeling public health data when there is little or no information on other factors related to the at-risk population. These models are well suited to modeling call volume to Quitline, because the varying coefficient allowed the underlying time trend to depend on fixed covariates that also vary with time, thereby explaining more of the variation in the call model.