OKLAHOMA offering a quit smoking hotline

Thursday, May 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There's a new effort to help smokers quit their dangerous habit. KOTV's Emory Bryan says the state is hoping smokers will put down their cigarettes and pick up the phone, to call a new stop smoking hotline.

Smoker Chris Robins first lit up when he was 15, and though he smokes a pack a day, he says he could quit. "I think I can quit, I think you have to have a want to, a need to." When he's ready, he'll have a new place to call for help. The State Department of Health is providing free telephone counseling to help smokers quit. Mary Hardy, Tulsa Health Department "Not everyone will want to do a telephone 'Quitline', but it is very convenient, you don't have to drive to get there, you can have it at a time you select." Oklahomans smoke more than most, a per capita average of 112 packs a year, far more than the national average of 86 packs a year. The Health Department hopes the new telephone service, coupled with an ad campaign, can make an impact with adults, and children. Melonie Mayes-Tyler, Tulsa Health Department "At least 42% of our high school students have used tobacco in the last 30 days and 21% of our middle school students have used tobacco in the last 30 days."

The overall program for Tulsa County will cost $2 million dollars this year. Angela Geiger, American Cancer Society "Cessation programs in general have about a 15-35% quit rate. Quitting is hard. Smokers usually have 5-7 serious attempts before they quit and every one of those attempts gives them practice for becoming a non smoker for a lifetime."

The number is 1-866-748-2436. It's toll-free and the help is free as well. It's part of a larger anti-smoking campaign, funded through the legal settlement the state reached with the tobacco companies.