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FOR RELEASE: November 15, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Health Officials Urge Cessation, Counseling and Quitlines for Great American Smokeout

State health experts agree with a recent national task force recommendation that a telephone quitline combined with patient education, and a mass media campaign will help increase the chances of smokers successfully quitting.

In Oklahoma, one-half of all youth smokers and three of every four adult smokers want to completely quit smoking. Currently, about 550,000 adults and 85,000 children in Oklahoma are smokers.

Last week an independent, non-federal Task Force on Community Preventive Services released a Guide to Community Preventive Services report based on in-depth systematic review of selected tobacco interventions. The report confirms the support officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health have voiced for using a portion of the tobacco settlement funds for effective tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.

The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends:

  • Telephone counseling through quitlines with patient education in community and clinical settings.
  • Media campaigns to reduce tobacco use and promote quitlines.
  • Healthcare provider reminder systems alone or with provider education programs on cessation.
  • Reducing out of pocket costs to patients for cessation programs.
  • Smoking bans and restrictions to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Increasing the price of tobacco products to increase cessation, reduce initiation and reduce consumption.

In preparation for this Thursday's Great American Smokeout, health officials stressed that individualized assessments and follow-up counseling by health care professionals can help each smoker determine his or her best options for quitting. Studies of specific pharmacological aids have shown that using the nicotine replacement patch leads to a typical success rate of 18%-22% at 12 months. The prescription aid Bupropion, also known as Zyban, has a success rate of 22.9% at 12 months. Further studies show that an individual who uses both the nicotine replacement patch and Bupropion will increase their chances of success to 35.5%.

Cessation programs and services need to be made available through Oklahoma workplaces, health care settings, and schools to help prevent the devastating diseases caused by tobacco. In addition to health concerns, the economic costs of smoking can climb for both smokers and nonsmokers. Every year, Oklahomans spend an estimated $690 million to treat tobacco-related illnesses. When non-health costs such as missed workdays are included, the total tobacco-related costs in Oklahoma exceed $1 billion each year—or an average of about $300 for every person in the state.

The Oklahoma State Board of Health has asked that funds from the tobacco settlement be spent, in significant part, on health issues related to tobacco addiction, including the latest technology to assist cessation.


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