As the year comes to a close, many people begin to think about making those New Year’s resolutions. If you are a tobacco user and are considering quitting, the Oklahoma County Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition can help you make quitting tobacco use your number one resolution this New Year. Through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, callers receive one-on-one coaching throughout their quitting process, specialized materials, free nicotine patches or gum and referrals to community resources.
“Tobacco kills more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders and illegal drugs combined,” said Alicia Smith, Tobacco Use Prevention Outreach Coordinator at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD). “Exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease, cancers, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma attacks, bronchitis and pneumonia. With all of these dangers lurking around us, the Coalition acted on the opportunity to launch an entire campaign encouraging tobacco-users to quit and quit for good.”
“When I quit smoking several years ago, this information and free help was not available,” said former tobacco user Roberta Barnes. “I just think it is great that government programs are available to help people ‘kick the habit’ and to live healthier lifestyles. That must help the overall costs of health care in the long run and I do hope people think about that.” Barnes also said that quitting smoking was the best life-changing decision she ever made.
“Tobacco companies help make smoking appear to be ‘cool’ to young adults by sponsoring fraternity and sorority events, bar nights, concerts, as well as other events that appeal to this age group,” adds Smith. “They give out free gifts and free cigarettes, and also host popular concerts.” At these events, contact information is obtained by scanning a driver’s license and later then used to promote direct marketing offers to these groups. They also target groups such as minorities, women and the gay community.
Information from the Coalition states that in 2007, the Federal Trade Commission saw the tobacco industry marketing expenditures increase dramatically after the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998, with a major surge in targeting 18-21 year olds. According to the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium, tobacco companies sponsor events that are closely located to university campuses. The Coalition works directly with the universities providing facts and information about tobacco prevention to create a leveled playing field.
The New Year’s Resolution campaign was designed to promote the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and to promote healthier lifestyles. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669, English or 1-800-793-1552, Spanish) is a free service for all Oklahomans with a desire to stop smoking or using other tobacco products. For more information on the Oklahoma County Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition or resources to help you or someone you know quit smoking, please call (405) 419-4247.