Washington launched smoking prevention site

Washington state's Health Department on Wednesday launched a smoking prevention World Wide Web site that provides users with a variety of information, including ways to quit smoking, talking to children about tobacco and first-person accounts of smoking and tobacco-related experiences.

"I think we're launching one very important tool for reaching people out there, smokers and would-be smokers," said Filiz Satir, editor of the site. "We want it to be a day-in and day-out resource for people susceptible to the tobacco market...which is almost exclusively targeted at teenagers."

The debut of the site (www.doh.wa.gov/tobacco) features a first-person story from a woman whose father died of emphysema after years of smoking, and is the first in a series of narratives that will be displayed, Satir said. "I think these kinds of stories are the means for creating change on what is a social norm," she said.

The site also provides numerous informational links, including advice on helping smokers quit, what to do if your child smokes, news stories, Washington's tobacco efforts, a list of the state's smoke-free restaurants, local smoking facts and figures among children, and more. Users also can share their ideas with members of the state's Tobacco Prevention and Control Council by clicking on the Talk to the Council link.

Satir envisions the site becoming more interactive in the future and hopes for more contributions from people who have dealt with smoking and tobacco use in any way. "We want to get input and feedback to find the best ways to keep people from starting, and to help people that do, quit," she said.

Satir said Washington will receive its money from the national tobacco lawsuit settlement next summer and is in the process of defining the state's tobacco-prevention policies.

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