Great American Smokeout plants a seed


By Sue Cody


W2W Smoking cessation“Tobacco is the No. 1 preventable cause of death,” says Julia Hesse, Clatsop County health promotion specialist. The benefits of quitting range start at 20 minutes when your heart rate and blood pressure drop, to 15 years when the risk of coronary heart disease equals that of a nonsmoker.


Forty years ago, The Great American Smokeout went nationwide to encourage people to stop smoking for at least one day. The smokeout this year is Nov. 16.


Volunteers at Columbia Memorial Hospital and health occupation students assembled 750 Quit Kits to help people eliminate tobacco use. The free kits will be available at various locations in the county before Thursday’s event. The kits contain paper clips, gum, hard candy, quit tips, a worry stone and other items.


“Tobacco is the most addictive substance there is,” says Hesse.


She has worked with people quitting methamphetamines, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and they tell her tobacco is the hardest.


“The purpose of quit kits and the Great American Smokeout, in general, is to get people introduced to the idea of quitting,” she says. “It takes most people seven to nine times of trying to quit before they actually are successful.


“The Great American Smokeout is just one day, but when someone is ready to quit, they will have the tools and knowledge to succeed.”


Help is available


Hesse says, “You can call the Quit Line (see below) and get free help. It doesn’t cost. Even if you don’t have insurance, you can get free help, and that includes nicotine replacement therapy, like gum and nicotine patches.


“Clatsop County is fortunate to have resources in place,” Hesse says. It is unusual for a rural county to have a tobacco specialist supported by a hospital.


Alissa Dorman is the tobacco cessation coordinator at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria.


“Clatsop County is really, really fortunate to have a specialist like Alissa,” Hesse says. “This is my third job, third state, third county, and I have never had a specialist at a hospital.


“I look at tobacco cessation as taking baby steps,” says Dorman, who is a certified tobacco treatment specialist.


“The work that I am doing isn’t always immediate. What makes it all worthwhile are those stories of those who have quit. I get thank yous in phone calls, notes and face-to-face interactions for doing my job.


“There is always work to be done, but we are slowly getting there. Statistics show tobacco use is decreasing.”


Primary caregivers refer patients to Dorman, who then calls the individual twice over the span of a month or two. It is like putting a bug in their ear or planting a seed, she says. “Most people want to quit and wish they had never started. Now it’s just finding the tools and giving them support when they are ready to quit.”


She schedules an individual appointment to take a history that includes current tobacco use and past quit attempts. She offers nicotine replacement therapy and works on creating a plan to change habits and behaviors.


“It’s like a dream to have [someone] who can work with people individually and in groups to help them quit tobacco,” Hesse says. “It’s a gift to have her here.”


While Dorman works with individuals trying to stop using tobacco, Hesse works on policy to discourage people from starting.


Raising taxes is the most effective way to keep people from starting, Hesse says. Creating smoke-free places, is the second-best way to protect people. “The more inconvenient you make it the less likely they are to start,” she says.


Nine out of 10 smokers began before the age of 18. To help combat this trend, Oregon recently passed a law that retailers cannot sell tobacco products to anyone younger than 21. That law will go into effect Jan. 1.


Tobacco companies use sophisticated targeting for kids, Hesse says. In 2012, tobacco spent $112 million promoting tobacco products in Oregon stores. Lane, Deschutes and Klamath counties have tobacco licensing policies in place and Clatsop County is working on licensing retailers, says Hesse. Such a policy could take away licenses from those selling to underage customers.


Clatsop County is also restarting the Clatsop County Tobacco Free Coalition.


The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, promote smoking cessation.




Tobacco-related deaths in Oregon in 2015 numbered 7,670, according to Oregon Vital Statistics and Annual Reports. The state recorded 43,853 tobacco-related deaths from 2010 to 2015.


In 2014, Oregon Health Authority reported 22 percent of Clatsop County adults regularly smoked cigarettes, higher than the state’s average of 19 percent.


Other 2014 statistics for Clatsop County:

  • 6,000 adults regularly smoked cigarettes
  • 1,400 with serious illness caused by tobacco
  • 75 tobacco related deaths
  • $15 million spent on tobacco-related medical care
  • $12 million in losses due to premature tobacco related deaths




Oregon Quit Line:

  • 1-800-QUIT-NOW
  • 1-800-784-8669


Spanish Quit Line

  • 1-855-DEJELO-YA
  • 1-855-3353-5692


Information on the benefits of quitting tobacco:



Clatsop County Tobacco Free Coalition:

  • Meets from 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the new CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative conference center
  • Anyone interested in tobacco use prevention and education is welcome. For information, call Steven Blakesley at 503-325-8500 or Alissa Dorman at 503-325-4321, ext. 5758



Clatsop County Quit Kits available Nov. 15-16 at:

  • Starbucks Warrenton
  • Clatsop Community Action, Warrenton
  • Care Oregon patients – Columbia Pacific CCO
  • Department of Human Services
  • Child Welfare
  • Oregon Employment Department
  • Rescare
  • Clatsop Behavioral Health
  • Clatsop Community College
  • Tongue Point Job Corps Center
  • County Juvenile Department
  • Seaside Coffee Roasters
  • Deals Only
  • Northwest Housing Authority
  • Astoria Head Start
  • Providence Seaside Hospital
  • 8 locations for Columbia Memorial Hospital:
    • CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative
    • Hospital West lobby
    • Hospital East lobby
    • Columbia Center
    • Warrenton Clinic
    • Urgent Care
    • Pavilion Café
    • CMH Outpatient Pharmacy

Quit smoking support

Quit smoking benefits