Health Department Urges: Support the Great American Smokeout!

Albany, N.Y. (Nov. 15, 2007) - Smoking still kills.

It kills half the people who continue to smoke – including 25,000 New Yorkers every year.

Smoking-induced diseases kill more Americans than alcohol, car crashes, AIDS and homicide. Combined, nearly 90 percent of all lung cancers are caused by smoking, killing more Americans than melanoma and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, kidney and liver combined.

In this country, about one person in five, or 440,000 people dies from smoking each year.

Those are all good reasons to support the American Cancer Society's 31st annual Great American Smokeout today, a day when smokers nationwide are encouraged to quit smoking for at least this day and, hopefully, forever. The American Cancer Society also uses this day to increase awareness of tobacco-related issues and to promote the health benefits associated with quitting smoking. According to a 2004 report by the U.S. Surgeon General, as soon as one year after quitting, an ex-smoker's excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.

"The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for smokers to give quitting a try. We understand that quitting is difficult, but the more often a smoker tries to quit the more likely he or she is to quit successfully," said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., Director of the state's Tobacco Control Program. "There are many reasons to quit smoking: for your children, for your spouse, to save money, to smell better, look and feel better, to improve health and even save your life."

"Quitting smoking is one of the hardest and most important things a smoker will ever do," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Most smokers try to quit on their own, but they don't need to. There are many effective treatments and support networks available to smokers who want to change their lives. The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for smokers to get the help they need to quit."

For more information about the Great American Smokeout, visit the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org. For information and help in quitting, visit the state Health Department websites www.health.ny.gov and www.nysmokefree.com or call the state Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487).