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Tips from former smokers aids Tobacco Helpline

aids Tobacco Helpline
Prevention specialists and health officials are crediting a new advertising campaign with increased calls to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.

The “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign features stories of former smokers with diseases and disabilities related to smoking, including lung and throat cancer, heart attack, stroke, Buerger’s disease and asthma. Smokers who quit also pass along tips about what helped them succeed.

“Though they may be tough to watch, the ads show real people living with real, painful consequences from smoking,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D. “There is sound evidence that supports the use of these types of hard-hitting images and messages to encourage smokers to quit, to keep children from ever beginning to smoke, and to drastically reduce the harm caused by tobacco.”

According to Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline data, calls to the helpline increased by more than 30 percent in the first two weeks of the ad campaign.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began the ad campaign on March 22.

“Oklahoma’s helpline continues to be one of the best in the nation, and our state ranks in the top three in reaching tobacco users and successfully providing treatment to help them quit,” said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust, which is the primary funder of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.

Since the helpline began in 2003, more than 200,000 Oklahomans have called to quit smoking or using tobacco, Strader said. Teresa Mitchell, program director for the Garfield County Tobacco Free Coalition, said local utilization of the helpline has remained strong.

“Garfield County calls to the helpline averaged 54 calls per month over the past six months,” Mitchell said. “The coalition is quite pleased with these results, and also credit local health providers who encourage their patients to become tobacco-free.”

Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, nearly one in five adults in the United States and 23.7 percent of adults in Oklahoma smoke. More than 6,200 Oklahomans each year lose their lives to smoking-related diseases, and for every one person who dies, another 20 live with a smoking-related illness.

Nearly 70 percent of smokers in the United States say they want to quit, and half try to quit each year, according the CDC.

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