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Antismoking efforts go online, mobile
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Saturday, 26 November 2011 00:00

There’s no need to wait until the new year to kick a bad habit.

In conjunction with the Great American Smokeout, Thursday, Nov. 17, the state’s antismoking program has released a new application for Facebook users called Call It Quits.

The Arizona Smokers Helpline is finding more ways to help Arizona cigarette smokers kick the habit. To celebrate the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 17, the organization released a quit smoking Facebook application and has plans to release an app for the iPhone soon.Created by the Arizona Smoker’s Helpline, the application hopes to provide another layer of support for wanna-be nonsmokers who use the popular social media site.

The program can be accessed through ASHLine’s Facebook page and it provides a number of useful tools that have been proven to help people quit smoking, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The idea is to help smokers build a social network support group, along with a system of rewards, encouragements and help when a craving for nicotine comes on.

“It’s a digital reminder,” said Wayne Tormala, head of the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau for Tobacco and Chronic Disease. “This is a way to especially target younger people who are more likely to use [Facebook].”

The sooner they can get smokers to kick the habit, the better, Tormala said.

“Although ideally we’d get them to never start in the first place.”

The application has been in development since the spring, Tormala said, and the agency plans to release the application for Apple’s iPhone before the end of the year.

The application is ready to go, Tormala said, but the agency is clearing up some last-minute details with Apple before it can be officially released for smart phone users.

To sign up for information about the coming iPhone application, visit CallItQuitsApp.com. For Facebook, just perform a search for ASHLine.

“Our new Call It Quits app transports our services into new media and broadens our reach. Starting in Facebook makes sense knowing that smokers can benefit from the support of their established social networks,” said ASHline director Stephen Michael in a statement announcing the release of the new program. “The new app will keep track of goals, share accomplishments via badges, create support groups and more.”

The application could be just what some people need to kick the habit for good, especially in areas like Yavapai County, where around one out of every five people smoke cigarettes, according to state health department data.

This is just the latest smoking cessation effort put forth by the state. The smoker’s helpline, (800) 556-6222, has had a great track record, Tormala said.

“We’ve got about a 40 to 50 percent success rate in getting people to quit,” Tormala said. “That’s very good, probably the highest success rate in the country.”

A key factor, Tormala said, is that the service is staffed with people who are all former smokers, giving those trying to quit an opportunity to get support from someone who has already been there.

Tomala said the agency plans to step up its public awareness campaign highlighting services available to smokers wanting to quit around the start of the new year.

For more information, visit ASHLine.org.

 

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