State Health Commissioner Commemorates Millionth Call to Smokers Quitline

1-866-NYQUITS has helped an estimated 125,000 smokers quit smoking

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 9, 2009) - If your New Year's resolution is to stop smoking, the New York State Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487) can help you reach that goal.

The state's Smokers' Quitline received its millionth call in late 2008, pushing New York State one step closer to achieving its goal of 1 million fewer smokers by 2010.

"Today we recognize the New York State Smokers Quitline as a valuable tool to help New Yorkers become smoke-free. The Smokers Quitline is a proven intervention that we know helps smokers quit smoking," said Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "For smokers considering quitting, the Quitline staff will provide information about tobacco use and treatment options. The Quitline is ready to help the next million callers reach their New Year's resolution to quit this year."

Established in January 2000, the Quitline has helped an estimated 125,000 smokers quit smoking. The Smokers Quitline is staffed by specialists who are trained to provide information and consultation on cessation topics, such as stop-smoking medications, nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine withdrawal symptoms and stop-smoking programs. Callers can request "Break Loose" a self-help booklet, and a listing of local smoking cessation programs. The Smokers Quitline is also designed to assist health professionals. Physicians and health care providers can use the Quitline service as a referral for their patients' stop smoking plans and to enhance recommended and/or prescribed stop-smoking medications.

Smoking kills 25,500 people every year in New York State, and secondhand smoke kills another 2,500 New Yorkers. Every year 570,000 New Yorkers are afflicted with serious disease caused by smoking.

Seventy-five percent of smokers claim they want to quit their deadly addiction, and 60 percent of smokers report trying to quit during 2008. There are approximately 2.7 million adult smokers in New York.

"As a national and international leader whose policies, research and education are focused on prevention and control of tobacco use, Roswell Park is proud to be the founder and current contractor for the New York State Smokers Quitline," said Donald L. Trump, M.D., FACP, President & CEO, Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "The successful effort of the Quitline program supports and encourages a healthy New York by reducing the staggering burden of tobacco use, which claims over 25,000 lives each year."

K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., Director of the New York State Smokers Quitline and Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said, "We are fortunate in New York State to have the support of our elected officials for a world-class tobacco control program and Quitline. Evidence-based treatment support to stop smoking is just a phone call or mouse-click away in New York. This is a highly cost-effective service as it costs about $200 to help someone quit smoking, but well over $35,000 to treat their lung cancer.

Dr. Cummings added, "The New York State Smokers Quitline is the largest of its kind in the world. Last year we received over 280,000 calls, and we want to double that number this year. Stopping smoking is not easy, but it does not have to be impossible either. Our professional staff is ready to give smokers the tools they need to increase their odds of quitting and staying off tobacco."

"Quitting smoking is the single most important thing that New Yorkers can do to improve their health," said Jeffery Willett, Ph.D., Director of the state's Tobacco Control Program. "We want to make sure that all New Yorkers know the Smokers Quitline is here to help them quit smoking once and for all."

Also at the news conference was a former smoker identified as Mike, from Western New York. He had smoked for more than 35 years and had tried to quit a couple of times before. "Knowing the Quitline was there for me when I needed it gave me the ability to quit smoking," Mike said. "No one at the Quitline gets angry at you if you fall off the wagon." Mike had a brief relapse after the death of a close family member, but got back on the right track. He had chosen to use nicotine-replacement patches available from the Quitline to undertake his successful quit. The Quitline also has gum or lozenges that will provide nicotine in a safe form, instead of a person inhaling toxins in cigarette smoke to get nicotine.

"Nicotine is the addictive substance," Commissioner Daines said. "It's safer to use nicotine replacements like patches or gum than it is to inhale it with cigarette smoke, which has been proven to cause lung disease and other illnesses.

Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.- 12 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. During off-hours, the Quitline features taped motivational messages on ways to quit. Additional information is available at www.nysmokefree.com.