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In Smoke-Free Minnesota, Five Former Smokers Share Their Struggles With Fighting Addiction

ClearWay Minnesota(SM) exhibit shares inspiring stories of Minnesotans who

struggled to quit

MINNEAPOLIS, June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- In smoke-free Minnesota, five Minnesotans who personally struggled to go smoke-free are sharing their stories, from the time they started smoking to their state of physical and emotional well-being today. Their inspiring stories will be showcased in ClearWay Minnesota's traveling photo essay exhibit today at the IDS Crystal Court in Minneapolis.

The exhibit celebrates the efforts of Minnesotans who used QUITPLAN(R) Services, ClearWay Minnesota's free, professional stop-smoking programs that have helped more than 12,000 Minnesotans successfully quit tobacco since 2001.

Those visiting the exhibit will also have an opportunity see how their own faces could become wrinkled and discolored if they smoked for years. ClearWay Minnesota will be providing free demonstrations of age-progression software for visitors to experience.

"We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the statewide smoke-free law and want Minnesotans to know where they can find help to successfully quit smoking," said David Willoughby, ClearWay Minnesota's Chief Executive Officer. "We are proud to share stories of Minnesota quitters through this photo exhibit. We hope it offers inspiration and a solution to others battling the addiction."

Five smokers' journeys

The Minnesotans featured are:

-- Randy Frazier: As a Twin Cities high school student Randy tried a cigarette offered from a buddy for the first time while at a soccer game. From that point forward he smoked on and off for 30 years, finding no success in his attempts to quit. Now, as a grandfather of three, he has discovered the once-phantom "new baby smell" after quitting the habit for good with the help of the QUITPLAN Helpline.

-- Sandra Fynboh: On prom night, at the age of 17, Sandra couldn't resist her first cigarette offer -- the cigarette gave her something to do with her hands. As she struggled to support herself and her two small children, she used more and more cigarettes to cope with stress. Wanting to be a good role model for her children, she found the power to quit smoking through the QUITPLAN Helpline and now keeps her hands occupied with her glasswork.

-- Yvonne Kennedy: Persuaded by friends to try a cigarette at age 12, she continued smoking for 16 years, even through the births of five children. She quit for six months during her last pregnancy when she learned she was having twins -- but, as soon as they were born, she had another cigarette in the hospital. Years later, when her own health began to suffer, she found support through a QUITPLAN Center with one-to-one counseling.

-- Mark Struthers: A pack-a-day smoker for 20 years, he decided to quit one Sunday morning while sitting at his home computer, smoking a cigarette and reading a list of lung cancer symptoms online. As a career counselor who helps other people plan for the future, he found reassurance talking to a QUITPLAN Center counselor who helped him map out a plan to end his tobacco use.

-- Robert Murphy: A former Twin Cities radio personality, he received packages containing free cigarettes from the tobacco companies for more than two decades, and developed a two-to-three packs-per-day habit for 45 years. Although he still struggles with smoking from time to time, he has found help through the QUITPLAN Helpline.

The photo essay features the photography of Doug Beasley, founder and director of St. Paul-based Vision Quest Photo Workshops. Known for photography that emphasizes vision and personal expression in everyday life, his work has been exhibited internationally and is widely published. For the ClearWay Minnesota photo essay, Beasley used black and white photography to portray each smoker's personality.

"Photography gives us a reason to look deeper and explore what other people are about," said Beasley. "The photos are fleeting observations of five people and their connections to spirit and to others."

Each year in Minnesota, tobacco use causes more than 5,600 deaths and is estimated to cost $2 billion in direct health care costs. Minnesotans looking for help to stop smoking have a variety of options available to them through QUITPLAN Services.

The Freedom to Breathe Act of 2007, a comprehensive state law prohibiting smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants and bars, went into effect on October 1, 2007. Minnesotans can find out about all the free help to quit smoking through QUITPLAN Services by calling 1-888-354-PLAN (7526).

QUITPLAN(R) Services for Minnesotans include:

-- The QUITPLAN(R) Helpline -- The QUITPLAN Helpline offers telephone counseling and free nicotine patches, lozenges or gum to eligible callers.

-- -- The web site offers free lifetime membership, helpful quitting tools and activities and the chance to connect online with thousands of others who have chosen to quit tobacco.

-- QUITPLAN(R) Centers -- QUITPLAN Centers provide in-person counseling in a health care setting, as well as access to nicotine patches, lozenges or gum.

-- Community-Tailored QUITPLAN(R) Centers -- A combination of stop-smoking tools and culturally-tailored counseling for communities of color.

-- QUITPLAN(R) at Work -- The QUITPLAN at Work program offers free on-site professional group counseling for eligible businesses with at least eight employees ready to stop smoking.

About ClearWay Minnesota(SM)

ClearWay Minnesota is an independent, non-profit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN(R) stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call (952) 767-1400 or visit

Contact: Mike Sheldon

Communications Manager

(952) 767-1425

Merete Wells

Carmichael Lynch Spong

(612) 375-8532

SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota
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