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DHS news release

December 9, 2004


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 503-731-4180


Technical contact: Mel Kohn, M.D., 503-731-4023


Make your New Year's resolution to kick the nicotine habit real: Get ready and set a date now to quit

Kicking the nicotine habit ranks as one of smokers' top New Year's resolutions. And the Oregon Department of Human Services' Tobacco Prevention and Education Program encourages smokers and tobacco chewers to quit in 2005.


"Most smokers--at least 75 percent--say they want to quit," says Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist at DHS. "The New Year's holiday is a great time for people to start a new tobacco-free life."


For those who decide to ring in the New Year by going smokefree, there's good news. Medical authorities say much of the damage caused by smoking can be reversed. Within just 20 minutes, a person's blood pressure and pulse drop to normal. The chance of heart attack decreases in 24 hours, and during the next several months, respiratory health begins to recover. One year later, the risk of heart attack has decreased by half.


"Most people don't quit smoking overnight," says Kohn. "Once you are committed to quitting, it's a good idea to devise a plan and then begin to implement changes that will make it easier for you to quit.


"The first step for a tobacco user who wants to quit is to pick a date to quit and take time to get ready," says Kohn. "It's also helpful to figure out what personal habits and triggers cause nicotine cravings and then find ways to overcome them."

He adds that experts agree taking action to deal with nicotine urges is an important step in kicking the nicotine habit. Most of the time the triggers that tempt nicotine use can be dealt with by avoiding situations that cause urges, by changing daily routines and by staying occupied.


Another important step is choosing a method to quit. While many people try to quit cold turkey, combining nicotine replacement therapy and counseling seems to have the best success for most people, according to Kohn.


Nicotine replacement therapy is available over the counter as nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges. It is also available by prescription as inhalers and nasal spray.


In addition, experienced cessation specialists are on hand through the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line to help create personalized quit plans. Specialists can also make recommendations and answer questions about pharmacological products such as the nicotine patch or nicotine gum available in grocery stores and pharmacies. Some health insurance plans pay for these products.


To talk to someone at the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line, call toll-free 1-877-270-STOP (7867) or 1-877-2 NO FUME

 (66-3863) for Hispanic callers. Cessation specialists are available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.


The Oregon Tobacco Quit Line was established in 1998 and is funded by voter-approved tobacco tax dollars.