Commissioner Novello: November 17th Marks the 29th Anniversary of The Great American Smokeout

Urges New Yorkers Who Want to Stop Smoking to Call Smokers Quitline - 1-866-697-8487

ALBANY, November 16, 2005 - State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D, M.P.H., Dr. P.H., today announced that tomorrow marks the 29th anniversary of The Great American Smokeout and encouraged all New Yorkers who smoke to join with the millions of smokers worldwide who will quit smoking for one day with the hope of stopping forever.

"The health benefits of quitting smoking are undeniable. A smoker who quits reduces his or her risk of developing smoking-related heart disease, stroke, cancer and emphysema," said Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D, M.P.H., Dr. P.H. "If you are a smoker, I strongly urge you to quit smoking today. I am proud to announce that over 500,000 New Yorkers have quit smoking in the last five years due in large part to our tobacco control efforts."

New York has one of the most comprehensive anti-smoking programs in the nation including; The Clean Indoor Air Act, aggressive anti-smoking advertising, taxing cigarettes, fire-safe cigarettes and keeping tobacco products out of the reach of kids. Additionally, Medicaid covers over-the-counter smoking cessation products, including nicotine patches and gum, and prescription medications sold under the brand name Zyban.

The Great American Smokeout invites smokers to kick the habit for 24 hours, as a start to quitting permanently. Medical research confirms that it is never too late to quit smoking. Tobacco-related health risks are significantly reduced within a few years of stopping smoking, even if a person has smoked for years.

New studies show that smokers who are serious about reducing the health risks from their habit are better off quitting than just cutting back on cigarettes. The research looks at heavy smokers who cut their cigarette use in half and at people who smoke as few as 1 to 4 cigarettes a day.

Additional benefits of quitting include avoiding premature wrinkling of the skin; bad breath; stained teeth; gum disease; bad smelling clothes and hair; yellow fingernails, as well as developing a renewed sense of smell and taste. Daily exercise is more productive and beneficial for a non-smoker because breathing becomes easier.

The New York Smokers Quitline has received over 315,000 calls since its inception five years ago. Trained cessation counselors are available weekdays for 12 hours a day from 9:00 AM. to 9:00 PM and weekends from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Quitline operators provide counseling and information to smokers who want to quit smoking. Callers can also order a free smoking cessation guide and a free two-week "starter kit" of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to be mailed directly to their home or listen to a taped message library that provides information about quitting smoking 24 hours a day.

More information about the Great American Smokeout and quitting smoking is available by visiting The American Cancer Society website at http://www.cancer.org/ and the New York State Department of Health web site http://www.health.ny.gov, or by calling the NYS Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NY QUITS (1-866-697-8487).