State's Top Health Official Encourages a Tobacco-Free 2013
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 3, 2013) As the new year gets underway, the State Department of Health (DOH) is supporting thousands of New Yorkers who have made a resolution to quit smoking or using other forms of tobacco.
"Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions a person can take to improve his or her health," State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said. "Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in New York State, and smokers who quit will reduce their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and emphysema, while also protecting others from exposure to secondhand smoke."
When a person stops smoking, the body begins to immediately repair itself. Just 20 minutes after stopping, the heart rate and blood pressure improve. A person's risk of heart attack begins to decrease after just 24 hours. In two weeks to three months, blood circulation improves, the body is better able to fight infection, walking becomes easier, and lung function increases up to 20 percent.
The 2012 U.S. Surgeon General's Report states that tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic. Every day, more than 3,800 youth under 18 years of age start smoking in the U.S. More than one-third of adult smokers started when they were 14 years old, the typical age of a high school freshman. Almost all current smokers started by the time they were 18 years old.
In conjunction with efforts to prevent teen smoking, DOH is asking all smokers, including long-term smokers who started using tobacco in their youth, to pledge to be tobacco-free in 2013. DOH recommends the following tips to help smokers quit:
- Visit your doctor for support and advice to develop an effective quit plan.
- Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar.
- Get rid of cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters.
- Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit.
- Make a list of family and friends who will offer support.
- Avoid triggers that may make you want to smoke - including alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.
- Make every attempt to shop at stores that do not aggressively promote smoking via large tobacco product displays, and avoid triggers while quitting such as stores where you have bought tobacco products in the past.
- 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. For information on quitting smoking or tobacco use, or to learn the health risks of smoking, contact your health care provider or call the toll-free New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487). English and Spanish speaking Quit Coaches are available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. You may be eligible to receive a free starter kit of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) that can greatly improve your chances of quitting. Visit the Quitline website at www.nysmokefree.com any time for information and services in English and Spanish.