March 7, 2001
Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, (971) 673-1282
Tobacco quit line to help teen tobacco users kick the habit
Many of the nearly 20 percent of Oregon high-school juniors who smoke say they want to quit. Now they can get help from the newly trained staff and the more youth-oriented quit packets available at the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line, say public health officials at the Department of Human Services.
Teens can call the regular toll-free number for the quit line, 1-800-270-STOP.
"In almost two years of operation, the Quit Line has helped more than 25,000 adults" says Nancy Clarke, Health Services's Quit Line manager. "Now we're expanding with a new program just for kids."
Clarke emphasizes that it is important to build trust and rapport with teens. "Many of the teens are reluctant to talk at first, so we make sure they know this is a safe place to call and that we don't report individual calls to anyone."
Teen counselor Phoebe Trombley is an ex-smoker. "I hated smelling like smoke and I hated waking up feeling like I had a brick on my chest. Once you quit, you notice it almost immediately, because in just a couple of weeks you can breathe again," she says.
Trombley talks to teens who began smoking at a young age and now want to quit. A desire to excel in sports is one big reason, another is pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend who finds the smell of smoke disgusting. Some teens are worried about yellow teeth and wrinkles. Others are going off college soon and want to start a new chapter of their lives as healthy young adults.
Just like adults, many teens need help when it comes to quitting.
"We tell them there's more than one way to quit," says Trombley. "Going cold turkey is really hard, but it's not the only solution." Other options are to gradually cut down, use the buddy system and quit with a friend, join a support groups or class, or use a nicotine patch or gum. A counselor can explain how smoking relates to other issues and how to work through problems without tobacco, according to Trombley.
Every day dozens of tobacco users, and those who use spit tobacco, call the Quit Line. Counselors analyze the caller's tobacco use patterns and helps him or her identify upcoming stressful events and coping strategies. Together, they develop a personal quitting plan. Callers also receive an "Oregon Tobacco Quit Kit" in the mail that includes a worry stone and other helpful tools to keep smoker's hands busy when cravings hit. Teens also get two magazines written specifically for youth.
Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program is a comprehensive effort to reduce the use of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke. It includes programs in local communities, schools, businesses, media and special populations. The program is funded by a tobacco tax increase approved by the voters in 1996. Ten percent of the new revenue is allocated to tobacco use prevention and reduction. Oregonians, who are ready to quit tobacco, call toll-free 1-877-270 STOP(English), or 1-877-2NOFUME (Spanish), or 1-877-772-6534 (TTY).