State Health Department Urges New Yorkers to make the Great American Smokeout on November 15 the First Day of a Smoke-free Healthy Life

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 14, 2012) – State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., encouraged all tobacco users in New York State to participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 15 as a first step to permanently stop smoking.

"Most smokers find it very difficult to quit and need medication, support and encouragement to give up smoking," Commissioner Shah said. "The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for smokers to pledge to stop smoking for at least one day, an important step toward kicking the powerful addiction to nicotine."

The Great American Smokeout is an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Through the Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society 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 New York and the United States. Each year approximately 25,500 New Yorkers die from smoking and an estimated 570,000 are afflicted with diseases related to their smoking. In addition, it is estimated that there are nearly 400,000 new underage daily smokers in this country each year – and roughly one-third of them will eventually die prematurely from smoking-caused disease.

New York State continues to actively work to reduce smoking rates in adults and children to achieve the goal of a tobacco-free society. Current smoking rates statewide are 18.1 percent for adults and 12.6 percent for high school age teens. Smoking still accounts for more than $8 billion in medical costs in New York State each year, including taxpayer funds for Medicaid.

Any person trying to quit smoking – or even just thinking about quitting – is encouraged to call the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (697-8487). The Quitline offers free services such as: assistance in developing effective plans and strategies to quit; coaching and motivation; nicotine replacement therapy for eligible smokers, such as nicotine patches; locations and contact information for local stop smoking programs; and coaching to help prevent those who successfully quit smoking from taking up smoking again.

The Quitline operates Monday through Thursday, 9am to 9pm; and Friday through Sunday, 9am to 5pm. Taped messages for callers are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Information about the Quitline, including languages spoken can be found online at:

Additional information about efforts to reduce tobacco use in New York State is available at: