Great American Smokeout is a Great Time to Quit

State Health Department Offers Tips, Services to Help Smokers Quit

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 16, 2011) – State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today urged New York smokers to join with thousands of others across the nation who are pledging to give up smoking for at least one day as part of the Great American Smokeout on November 17th.

"Smoking is a dangerous and deadly addiction that can be extraordinarily difficult to quit," Commissioner Shah said. "We encourage all smokers, including those who have tried and failed to quit in the past, to participate in the Great American Smokeout and make a plan to give up tobacco."

The Great American Smokeout is an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. It encourages smokers to quit smoking for at least one day, and offers advice on how to permanently quit.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States and in New York. Each year approximately 25,500 New Yorkers die from smoking, and it is estimated that 389,000 children and teens who currently smoke will eventually die from tobacco-related disease. Adult and youth smoking rates statewide are at the lowest levels recorded: 15.5 percent for adults and 12.6 percent for high school age teens. These rates are lower than national averages and over time, smoking rates have gone down in New York faster than they have nationally.

The New York State Smokers' Quitline (1-866-NY-QUITS/697-8847) is a valuable resource for smokers who need advice, tools and support to quit smoking. The Quitline is a free, confidential program offering evidence-based stop smoking services, including free nicotine replacement patches, telephone counseling and support, educational materials, listings and referrals to local quit-smoking programs, and strategies to help smokers develop a successful quit plan. The Quitline operates Monday thru Thursday, 9am-9pm; and Friday thru Sunday, 9am-5pm. and also has taped messages for callers available 24/7. Information can be found online at:

At any one time, there are estimated to be about 570,000 New Yorkers afflicted with serious disease directly attributable to their smoking. These include many forms of cancer (e.g., lung and oral), cardiovascular diseases (e.g., heart disease and stroke) and other lung diseases (e.g., chronic bronchitis and emphysema).

The State Health Department recommends the following tips to help smokers quit:

  • Visit your doctor for support and advice for your quit plan.
  • Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar.
  • Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
  • 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.
  • Avoid stores (especially those with large tobacco product displays) where you have purchased cigarettes in the past - this can be a trigger.
  • 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.