New stop smoking helpline gains early success

Friday, January 2nd 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Television ads for Oklahoma's toll-free stop smoking helpline began airing this week.

But the media campaign, timed to support Oklahomans who have made New Year's resolutions to quit smoking, is already enjoying early success.

Tim Allen, whose role as spokesman for the state treasurer's office often puts him in contact with the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust board, quit smoking four months ago.

``It was at the joint meeting of the board of trustees and the investment board in Tulsa that I decided to quit,'' said Allen, a smoker for more than 20 years.

Allen said a presentation about the media campaign included a segment of a woman talking about her father, who had died three months earlier of a tobacco-related illness.

The woman described how much it would have meant had her father stopped smoking and lived to see his new grandchild.

``That did it for me,'' Allen, a father, said.

Allen said he still thinks about smoking, and struggles every day. That's where the state's helpline, which began less than four months ago, comes in.

The ads, entitled ``Quitting Takes Practice,'' and the helpline are funded by the state Tobacco Trust.

``Tobacco use continues to be Oklahoma's leading cause of preventable death,'' said Tracey Strader, executive director of the trust. ``The good news is that telephone-based cessation counseling has been shown to double successful quit rates over self-help alone.''

The helpline's cessation specialists work with callers to determine their readiness to quit, assist them in developing a plan based on their individual needs and schedule up to four follow-up sessions designed to enhance motivation.