State Health Commissioner Offers Tips to Help Smokers Quit on Day of Great American Smokeout

Smoking is Number One Preventable Cause of Sickness and Death

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 18, 2010) - Today is the perfect day for smokers to break the hold tobacco has on them, says State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D.

Today is the Great American Smokeout, sponsored annually by the American Cancer Society since 1975. It's a day when smokers are encouraged to quit smoking for at least one day and, hopefully, forever.

"This is one day when you won't be alone in trying to break free from the addiction of smoking," Commissioner Daines said. "It's an ideal time to take advantage of the free resources that are available to help you quit smoking, including the New York State Smokers' Quitline and an online quit smoking program called Breathe."

Smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of sickness and death in New York State and the nation. Currently about 2.7 million New Yorkers smoke, including about 18 percent of adults and 15 percent of high school students.

The Breathe quit smoking program provides users with personalized action plans to help them quit, just as a health coach would. Breathe features a blog, a savings calculator, a chat function, and videos. The program can be accessed at www.nysmokefree.com

The New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS ( 1-866-697-8487) is a free, confidential program that provides evidence-based stop smoking services to New York State residents who want to quit. Quitline call hours are: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Smokers who want to quit can also follow these tips:

  • Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar. Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
  • Visit your doctor for support and advice with your quit plan.
  • Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.
  • Make a list of family and friends who will support you.
  • Avoid triggers that make you want to smoke, including alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.
  • Exercise to relieve stress and to improve your mood and health. Try a brisk 30-minute walk at least four days a week.
  • Consider using a safe nicotine alternative, such as replacement patches, gum or lozenges, which can double your chances of quitting.

"Tobacco use exacts a terrible toll on the health and productivity of smokers and kills over 25,000 New Yorkers each year," said Dr. Daines. "Smoking also puts a strain on New York taxpayers, who spend over $8 billion each year to support publicly-financed health care for patients being treated for smoking-caused illness.

"I hope the day comes when we no longer need a Great American Smokeout. If we keep children from being exposed to cigarettes and cigarette advertising, that's a possibility. Tobacco companies spend about $1.1 million per day in New York to market their products to potential new smokers, our kids. Much of the advertising is in the form of in-store promotions at eye-level for kids. Why can't retail stores follow the good example of grocery store chains like Price Chopper that have placed tobacco products out of public view and Wegmans, which has taken the additional step of ending the sale of these deadly products?"

Commissioner Daines is encouraging policies that:

  • Keep all tobacco products out of consumer view in retail establishments that are frequented by children and youth;
  • Create zones around schools that are free of tobacco retailers; and
  • Encourage pharmacies, whose primary focus is health care products and services, to get out of the business of displaying and selling tobacco products.

"These actions will protect our children by reducing youth smoking and the illegal sale of tobacco to minors," Dr. Daines said.