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Tobacco tax hike has more Oklahoma smokers trying to quit

(KOKH)

More smokers are kicking the habit in Oklahoma after a statewide tax hike on tobacco.

According to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), the July 1 cigarette and little cigar price increase has encouraged Oklahomans to quit, and thousands are reaching out to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has seen an 85-percent increase in registrations in the first four weeks of July compared to data from July 2017. About 4,200 Oklahomans registered for free services between July 1 and July 28 compared to 2,300 registered callers during the same time period in July 2017.

“Quitting smoking is difficult and TSET is here to help Oklahomans make that healthy choice that will save lives, and dollars,” said TSET Executive Director John Woods. “The increase in registrants is encouraging to see and confirms what we know, most smokers want to quit, and increasing the price of cigarettes and little cigars will help smokers make the decision to quit, and stay quit. Price increases also keep young people from starting, and that’s positive news for the future of our state.”

While adult smoking in Oklahoma has declined by 24 percent over the past decade, roughly 19 percent of adults still smoke. Nationally the rate is about 17 percent. The cigarette and little cigar price increase will encourage 18,700 adults to quit smoking, and discourage more than 17,000 Oklahoma kids from ever starting to use tobacco. Price increases and smokefree policies are a few of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, help smokers quit and stay quit.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline offers free assistance to Oklahomans who want to quit tobacco, including text and email support, phone and web coaching and at least a free two-week supply of patches, gum or lozenges for registered participants. SoonerCare patients may be eligible for additional benefits and can talk with their health care provider about quitting options. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline’s resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customizable options provide flexibility for Oklahomans searching for a quit plan that fits their lifestyle.

"It's going to put more money in their pocket,” said Woods. “It's going to make them healthier, live longer and it is a resource that's really going to help them get through that difficult hurdle of trying to quit the addictive product of nicotine."

Check out the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline’s cost calculator to find out how much tobacco use is costing you. Oklahomans can also learn more by visiting the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Helpline website.

Not quite ready to quit? The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline can still help. For those thinking of quitting tobacco, the Helpline offers information and resources to prepare Oklahomans for the next step. Additionally, tobacco users are encouraged to take the Helpline’s Readiness Quiz to assess their attitudes, beliefs and emotions regarding the quitting process.

Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit OKhelpline.com to learn more. Connect with the Helpline through social media by liking the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline on Facebook or following @OKhelpline on Twitter and Instagram.

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