Did you know that 90 percent of smokers are fully addicted by the time they’re 19? And that most smokers tried a cigarette for the first time around the age of 11 or 12?

A new effort launched this week to help Arizona youth kick smoking.

Modeled after the successful Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine), The CIGNAL is aimed at young adults, directing callers under the age of 23 to specially trained youth coaches.

“Teens need to know that they can easily become addicted to smoking, just as adults can, but help is available when they’re ready to quit,” said Pima County Public Health Director Francisco García.

“We’re pleased to be able to partner with other advocates across the state to help get the word out about this new program.”

In Arizona, slightly more than 17 percent of teens under the age of 18 use tobacco. Despite knowing the health effects of tobacco, teens remain susceptible to peer pressure and/or curiosity.

“Our major challenge is relating to a group of young people who, while they smoke, do not consider themselves smokers,” says Courtney Ward, Tobacco Office Chief at the Arizona

Department of Health Services. “To reach them we had to come up with messaging that they can relate to.”

The public service campaign to promote CIGNAL seeks to connect with young tobacco users through depictions of common phrases such as, “I only smoke when I’m at a party” or “I only smoke on the weekends.”

The CIGNAL is a free service and be reached via the toll-free number 1-800-55-66-222.

For callers under the age of 18, parental consent is not needed. Medications and other quit aids such as the patch, gum and lozenge will not be provide to anyone under 18. Teens interested in this method of quitting are encouraged to talk to their doctor. www.theCIGnal.com

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