POLK COUNTY -- Nothing can bring back those who have died from diseases caused by tobacco. For others, there is hope.
The Polk County Tobacco Prevention Coalition has created a display of stories and pictures of loved ones lost to tobacco-related diseases. This "Wall of Hope" will make its rounds of the county in places people gather, said tobacco prevention coordinator Cindy Wilhite.
Western Oregon University student Lisa Wilson contributed to the wall. She lost her dad at age 9. "My dad was a smoker and because of that he died," Wilson said.
She feels that the Wall of Hope brings the consequences of smoking closer to home. "There are stories from all different ages and all are touching and moving," she said. "You can really feel what they've gone through."
Wilhite hopes the stories will motivate smokers to break their addiction. "We're working to try to stop or slow losses caused by tobacco and to give loved ones the strength to quit," she said.
Wilhite encourages young people to not start smoking and advocates for smoke-free environments.
The scope of tobacco's effects makes it especially important to address, she said. "One in five deaths in Polk County list tobacco-related causes on the death certificate," Wilhite said. "I don't know anyone who hasn't been touched by someone who died of tobacco-related causes."
To add to the wall of hope, send a story and picture of a loved one, your address and phone number to Polk County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, 182 SW Academy No. 310, Dallas, OR 97338. For more information, call Cindy Wilhite at 503-623-9664 or write email@example.com.