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For Some, It's 'Try, Try Again...'

November 19, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. - For the 16.3 percent of Oregonians who smoke cigarettes, New Year's Day comes a little early - on November 19. The annual Great American Smokeout offers a chance to quit, backed by a major national publicity campaign. If it takes more than that, Oregon has plenty of local resources.

Sherry Owen, coordinator of tobacco cessation and asthma programs for the American Lung Association of Oregon (ALA-Oregon), has been helping them scale that barrier for almost 30 years. In the Association's Freedom from Smoking program, she tells people that failing, then trying again, doesn't show weakness - it shows courage.

"Be proud that you are coming back to quit again. You can learn from those past practice quits. It can be a matter of six to 10 attempts for many, many people."

Owen says there are classes around the state and online, including a program just for teenage smokers, plus state-run Quitlines in English and Spanish, and more.

"Don't let anybody tell you there's only one way to quit smoking, because there are many, many ways. Some people can quit cold turkey, some people use medications. Quitting is a process, and it's a lifetime decision."

In the 28 years she's been a nurse and educator, Owen says public attitudes about smoking have changed so much that she worries people who don't smoke are too quick to judge those who have tobacco-related illnesses, or who are trying to quit. She says most folks don't realize how addictive tobacco is, and she hopes today's Smokeout prompts more understanding and support.

ALA-Oregon lists its own and other Oregon "quit" resources online at The national Quitline is 800-784-8669 (800-Quit-Now).

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR